The Yarmouth School Committee Thursday will take a final vote on policies that affirm parents’ rights to restrict their children’s access to specific books and other learning materials.

“This simply codifies our current practice,” Superintendent Andrew Dolloff said. “When parents come to school administration and request that their child not be allowed to check out a certain book from the library, we work with the parent, and we do the best that we can to honor their request.”

The school committee last month gave preliminary approval, which also includes a system for parents to request their child be exempt from classroom instruction that conflicts with their religious, moral or philosophical beliefs.

Parental challenges to books in school libraries, mostly those with LGBTQ+ themes, have been increasingly common in Maine and the rest of the country over the past few years. Some books on sexuality have been deemed “pornographic” by some parents or at the very least inappropriate for high school libraries.

Some parents at the Dec. 18 meeting objected to the policies that allow for restricted access to materials.

Chris Stetson said he read one of the books considered to be controversial, which is available at Yarmouth High School. While he said it was a difficult read for him, he appreciates that it’s an important book for some people.


“It should stay,” Stetson said. “There should be no ban or challenge of books.”

Several residents, including Steve O’Grady, said the policies are a “slippery slope” that could lead to broader restrictions on materials deemed inappropriate by a small number of vocal parents.

“When staff finds it impossible to remember which books are banned for which children, they’re forced to default to restricting access for all children,” O’Grady said. “This would mean that my child would be unable to access materials that we as parents have no objection to and would consider educational.”

Also at the meeting, Yarmouth Elementary Director of Teaching and Learning Shanna Crofton urged the school committee to extend pre-K to a full-day program.

The district’s current half-day pre-K is not beneficial for all students and parents, she said.

“It’s a short day, less than three hours,” Crofton said. “This means that there are a lot of transitions for kids, and research shows that young kids benefit from fewer transitions.”

The benefits of full-day pre-K include opportunities for field trips, access to a free full meal plan, and more flexibility and access for special education services and multilingual learner support.

Many parents also require full-day child care, Crofton said, and that expense of child care in Yarmouth can be unaffordable for some families.

The committee took no action on the pre-K proposal.

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