Following last week’s news that the Superintendent of Schools in Wallingford, CT had removed Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower from the curriculum despite a review committee recommendation to keep it, CBLDF has joined with five other members of the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Kids’ Right to Read Project in protesting the decision.
In a letter sent to Superintendent Salvatore Menzo and members of the school board, we pointed out that the accession to the demand of one parent (Jean Pierre Bolat, who has been appointed to the school board sice filing his challenge) contradicts existing district policy which states that “while the Board of Education upholds the right of all parents to assess and evaluate their own children’s educational materials, it will resist any attempt to censor materials used by others.” The letter urged the board to undertake a review of Menzo’s decision, a process that is also laid out in policy.
Meanwhile, local opposition to the ban is also growing. Connor Reed, a 2014 graduate from the district, started an online petition that has garnered 125 signatures as of this writing. Holly Lafond, the mother of a current student, contacted her school’s principal and district administration asking for the book to be reinstated because “I feel like the opt-out option for me and my daughter was determined by an individual other than ourselves. Another individual shouldn’t determine my opt out.”
But the issue that may prompt the board to action is Bolat’s apparent conflict of interest. Although Bolat filed the challenge months before a vacancy came up on the school board and he was appointed, Superintendent Menzo only made the decision to remove Perks from the curriculum after meeting with him when he had already joined the board. As Town Councilor Craig Fishbein pointed out, at that point Bolat was “one of nine supervisors” over Menzo.
Read the full letter that CBLDF signed below.
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.