New Hanover County School Board votes to temporarily ban Stamped from curriculum

New Hanover County School Board votes to temporarily ban Stamped from curriculum
Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 2:14 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2023 at 8:29 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County Board of Education held a special meeting on Friday, September 1, to discuss banning the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

The board voted Friday 4-3 to temporarily ban the book from the high school curriculum but retain it in high school libraries until the board can update its policy to allow a “balanced” book to be added to the AP course.

Josie Barnhart, Melissa Mason, Pat Bradford and Pete Wildeboer voted in favor of the decision. Stephanie Kraybill, Hugh McManus and Stephanie Walker voted against the decision.

“Very disappointed with the decision that was made. I was not in favor of any restriction any removal any way you want to say it. To me, it’s a ban, it’s a removal for students, so I was very unhappy,” said Walker.

Other board members said they are nervous for what this decision means for New Hanover County.

“It is a hot topic in our country and in our state. And there’s nothing un-educational about it, because all it was doing was giving one person’s perspective on race issues in the United States. And the whole topic of this class was to read materials and formulate your own opinion,” said Kraybill.

The discussions around removing the book began after a parent, Katie Gates, filed a complaint about the book’s use in an AP course. After staff decided not to remove the book, Gates appealed the decision to the board of education.

“ I don’t consider it a win for me. I think I’m not doing this for Katie Gates. I’m doing this for the students. I’m doing this for the community. I’m doing it because I want our students to grow up having pride in the country that we live in and that we experience in America and to be grateful for it. And to know that we’re always moving towards a more perfect union,” said Gates.

During the meeting Gates argued that the book is educationally unsuitable and does not help prepare students for the AP exam. She said the book does not align with the school boards quality control checklist.

Gates also said the book is based off of bias and manipulation arguing that the book is not historically accurate.

“A balanced perspective is a great way for us to move forward. This country was founded on healthy discourse and debate. We can look back at primary sources from the beginning, I think we’ve lost that. And I think this is may be the big first step towards what does it look like, and how we can come to a solution. I want it out of the classrooms in New Hanover County and into the libraries that’s fine.”

The board previously discussed the book on July 11 and heard from several parents and educators against banning the book. However some board members felt there should be a hearing where both sides of the argument could provide input since a few parents raised concerns about the merits of the novel. The board voted 4-3 to hold a hearing. An extended call to the audience was also held for the book on Aug. 1.

The meeting on Friday included a presentation from Gates and New Hanover County Schools administration.