Mohawk Trail Policy Subcommittee reconsidering book weeding policies

  • The Mohawk Trail Regional School District School Committee convenes earlier this month. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 6/22/2022 4:25:59 PM
Modified: 6/22/2022 4:25:39 PM

BUCKLAND — In the wake of concerns about violations of the Mohawk Trail Regional School District’s book weeding policies, the Policy Subcommittee plans to reconsider the regulations in July.

Earlier this month, School Committee members Julie Dubreuil and Barbara Rode, along with two residents, shared their concerns about book weeding policy violations during the public comment portion of a School Committee meeting. Rode and Dubreuil say they have attempted to discuss the policy violation at meetings since January, when they first noticed the noncompliance, but it was never placed on the agenda.

“I would like to make the public aware of the ongoing violation of the Mohawk Trail regional district’s policy and procedure IJL and IJL-R; and formally request that the School Committee and superintendent take seriously the responsibility of following district policies and procedures, and cease and desist activities they know are in violation of said policies and procedure,” Dubreuil said.

Policy IJL states “Materials may be removed from the (Mohawk Trail Regional School) library for the following reasons: A) Not being used B) Damaged C) Obsolete D) Containing Factually Incorrect Information.” IJL-R goes on to say, “The list of materials to be weeded will be provided to the School Committee, which must vote to approve of the disposal.”

Dubreuil, Rode, and residents Debra Andrew and Amy Coates, claim the School Committee never approved a list of books to be removed. Between the libraries at Mohawk Trail Regional School and Hawlemont Regional School, 8,950 books have been weeded.

Sheryl Stanton, superintendent of the Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont regional school districts, responded, “We have been working to address the problem. ... We are going to move the book list at the same time we update the policy.”

According to School Committee Chair Martha Thurber, the Policy Subcommittee will reconsider the book weeding policy and redraft some of it during a July 11 meeting. She said the Massachusetts Association of School Committees creates a policy, and the school subcommittee edits it accordingly to meet the individual needs of the school.

According to Thurber, the current policy is outdated. The policy does not take into account that school libraries are continuously weeding their collections and staff are keeping track of the progress in a computer system.

Thurber also explained that under the current policy, the books need to be put out to bid, but this is an extremely expensive process.

“No one wants to bid on books that nobody wants,” Thurber said.

However, Dubreuil said the idea of revising the policy now, after 8,950 books have been weeded, does not adequately respond to the violations that have already occurred.

“They are attempting to revise the policy and address the issue so it won’t be a violation,” Dubreuil said in a subsequent interview. “It’s like saying ‘I got a speeding ticket, can I change the speed limit?’”

Thurber explained the change of policy is an outcome of “wanting to look at how libraries actually operate.”

“We are not suggesting this is a case of censorship,” Rode clarified in an interview. “We just have not had an opportunity to discuss the list.”

Contact Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.


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