July 7, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

MIAMI, FL - The Florida Library Association supported a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Miami-Dade Student Government Association against the Miami-Dade County School Board for its removal of the book Vamos a Cuba and the book series "A Visit to..." from local libraries and classrooms, the ACLU announced today.

"The price we pay for the right to free speech is tolerance for ideologies in opposition to our own," said Sol Hirsch, president of the Florida Library Association. "Instead of censorship, librarians advocate providing information representative of all sides of an issue."

The Florida Library Association filed a friend of the court brief in United States District Court. The action was recommended by the organization's Intellectual Freedom Committee and approved by its Board of Directors.

Vamos a Cuba is part of a series of books about countries written for children in kindergarten through second grade. A number of libraries in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools own copies of the book on Cuba, as well as other books in the series. In April, a parent complained about the book's portrayal of life in Cuba. According to the School Board's process for handling complaints about library materials, the book was reviewed by a school advisory committee made up of educators, administrators, community members, and a child psychologist. The committee determined that the book was appropriate for five- to seven-year-old children and recommended that it not be removed from the library. This decision was upheld by a review committee and by Superintendent Rudy Crew.

In its 6-3 vote to remove the books from school libraries, the School Board rejected the recommendations of educators and other committee members as well as its own legal counsel. It also clearly violated its own established procedures. No complaint had been made about the other books in the "A Visit to..." series, which contains 24 books total. The Board targeted the entire series for removal from the schools without the books ever having been reviewed by an advisory committee or by the School Board.

The last major case involving book censorship by a public school system was a 1982 suit filed in New York, Board of Education v. Pico. It was heard by the Supreme Court, which ruled that books cannot be removed from school libraries for political or narrowly partisan reasons. This case has stood mostly unchallenged.

For more information about the ACLU's challenge, go to www.aclu.org/freespeech/censorship/26010prs20060621.html
 
 
 

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