Superintendent apologizes for book removals

Library books
Posted at 9:56 PM, Mar 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-17 05:56:16-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The superintendent of a Kent County school district has apologized for removing books from the district's library this past summer.

On Wednesday night, Forest Hills Superintendent Dan Behm sent a letter to district staff, taking full responsibility for his actions.

“I am sorry that I did not do better sooner in this issue,” the superintendent writes in part. “I remain fully committed to my own learning and supporting you and your selfless efforts to help all kids learn, grow, and thrive.”

A Forest Hills Public Schools employee, who did not wish to be named, verified the email.

Back in February, the National Coalition Against Censorship accused the superintendent of secretly removing books and thereby violating district procedures. In a statement, the NCAC explained the district requires any book removals to be decided by formal review.

In Wednesday's email, Behm explains it was not his role to make the decision to remove some books from the school library and that he has directed staff to return those books- some of which, he says, were stories about the LGBTQ+ community.

Moving forward, Behm says he plans to have his staff members, who are responsible for the books, update any media material without interference.

“We want to collaborate with parents and families and respect the personal preferences they have for their own children when choosing a good book,” Behm writes.

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