Regional School Unit 56 Librarian Cindy Petherbridge, left, and library educational technician Kristin Arsenault address the board of directors Tuesday night at Dirigo High School in Dixfield on how books are selected for school libraries. The board decided to send a proposal to remove all books containing sexually explicit material from district libraries to the district’s policy committee. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

DIXFIELD — Directors of Regional School Unit 56 decided Tuesday to send a proposed policy to remove all books containing sexually explicit material from district libraries to the policy committee.

The board heard from three school educators, who each panned Dixfield Director Kathleen Szostek’s proposal.

“There needs to be room for all types of literature, beliefs and opinions in a constitutional republic that espouses itself on individual freedoms and liberty at their face value,” Earl Couture, a math interventionist, said.

He said he was “disgusted by some of the board members’ comments from the last board meeting, specifically, singling out many types of Americans and their culture and literature as not being appropriate to be in our schools.

“I do agree that there are limits to what can and should be allowed in schools. But to blanket all of them together is illegal and most importantly immoral,” Couture said.

Educators Julie Couture and Bethany Meehan-Poulin also said they are not in favor of making changes to the district’s book selection policy.


Librarian Cindy Petherbridge and library educational technician Kristin Arsenault explained how books are selected for libraries at Dirigo High School, T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School, both in Dixfield, and Dirigo Elementary School in Peru.

Arsenault said that according to the district’s book selection policy, the libraries will provide “a wide range of materials based on all levels of difficulty, with diversity of appeal and the presentation of different points of view.” Book selection choices will “foster respect and appreciation for diversity,” she said.

Arsenault also noted per the policy, that “the board recognizes that the final authority as to what materials an individual student will be exposed rests with that student’s parents or guardians.

“However, at no time will the wishes of one child’s parents to restrict his/her reading or viewing of a particular item infringe on other parents’ rights to permit their children to read or view the same material,” she said.

The district’s catalogs of books available in the schools are listed on the RSU 56 website, she said.

RSU 56 includes Dixfield, Peru, Canton and Carthage.

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