Virginia Beach School Board votes “no” on library changes

by | Jun 22, 2023 | Trending News

The Virginia Beach School Board met on Monday, June 12 to vote on, among other topics on their agenda, potential changes to the library media centers in each of the division’s schools.

The vote on the proposed change to the school’s library policy in Virginia Beach City Public Schools was the culmination of discussion that took place over many weeks. It had garnered both support and concern from Virginia Beach citizens of all backgrounds.

The proposed policy was to implement a review process for the digital and print items contained in each school library. Using a recently enacted law by the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Beach School Board has begun a process to identify materials that feature sexually explicit content and how to administer these items depending on the grade levels the library serves.

Many educational professionals and Virginia Beach community members voiced concern that the language used in the proposal was vague and open to interpretation. Moreover, many classic and new titles would have been censored as a result of the policy.

The School Board’s vote of 5 in favor of the policy and 6 against, resulted in the measure failing. Kimberly Melnyk, who represents District 2, says, “It is important that we preserve access to important historical and cultural literary works and research.  Policy 6-65 was an ambiguous policy defined by subjective criteria that could have created a gateway to book banning.”

One of the six members who voted against the measure, Melynk says the community outcry over the concern that students would no longer freely see themselves and their peers in the literature available to them served as a motivating factor for her vote. She says she received many calls and emails expressing alarm from constituents. “Community engagement was the reason this policy did not pass and is the perfect example of why the voice of the people matters,” says Melnyk.

Pleased with the outcome, community leader and long-time educator Gail Flax says, “The opportunities to VBCPS students to continue to be exposed to different cultures and experiences were retained by the vote of the Virginia Beach School Board.  Censorship limits a free exchange of ideas and the vote of our board members provides students the freedom to read books that challenge them to explore new ideas and to think critically. The board set a positive example of democracy by listening to the voices of the citizens of their communities and voting against limiting their reading autonomy.”

United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Jewish Community Relations Council and the Holocaust Commission will continue to follow this story.
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For more information, contact Elka Mednick, Holocaust Commission director, at or 757-965-6100.

-Elka Mednick