Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Miami_dade School Board To Appeal 'Vamos a Cuba' Ruling

JG: What a waste of taxpayer money!


5 board members voted to appeal
2 board members voted not to appeal
2 board members were absent

(CBS4 News) MIAMI The Miami-Dade County School Board has made another move to try and remove a controversial children’s book about Cuba from school library shelves.

In a 5-to-2 decision, with two members absent, the Board voted to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that forced the district to keep the book “Vamos a Cuba” and 23 other titles on school library shelves.

The board said it wanted to protect the right of the district to determine the content of school libraries, rather than leave it up to a judge.

Board members Frank Bolaños, Agustin Barrera, Perla Tabares Hantman, Ana Rivas Logan and Marta Pérez voted for the appeal.

The appeal to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will likely be heard late this fall. Until then, the books must remain on shelves in dozens of schools, mainly elementaries.

Neither Martin Karp nor Solomon Stinson, the two board members who opposed the appeal, spoke during the debate, and two others -- Evelyn Greer and Robert Ingram -- were not at the meeting.

The board voted in June to remove the books, saying they oversimplify the foreign countries they portray for their 5- to 7-year-old target audience.

The ACLU and the Miami-Dade Student Government Association have a lawsuit pending against the school board for pulling the series book off the shelves. Though the content of the other books in the series were not put in question, the school board decided to pull all of the books.

The case has already cost the district more than $123,000 on outside attorney’s to fight the case, and the approval of this appeal to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will cost even more.

Virginia Rosen, President of the Greater Miami Chapter of the ACLU, released the following statement after Tuesday’s Miami-Dade School Board meeting. "The ACLU of Florida is extremely disappointed that the Miami-Dade School Board voted today to advocate censorship in the Miami-Dade Public School System. This will be a costly battle for the school district and the ACLU is prepared to continue litigating-we are confident that free speech will prevail at all levels."

Brandon Hensler, Director of Communications for the ACLU of Florida released this statement. “This lawsuit is a senseless waste of taxpayers' dollars which should be spent better educating the children of Miami-Dade County. The ACLU understands that some people in our community may be offended by parts of the book, but these dollars should be spent on providing students with more information, not censoring library books. If we removed every book that offends one person, or even a group of people, our school library shelves would be nearly empty. It is a regrettable decision and a disservice to the community."

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