Cherlyn Pherigo


In the American democratic system, it is not uncommon for small, publicly-elected bodies to control the workings of societal institutions. These bodies may be federal, state or local in realm and function, and are usually given wide discretion. But who is it that controls the actions of these bodies This question is paramount to the myriad of recent cases involving the removal of books from secondary school libraries. The body involved is the local school board - an elected unit charged with the duty of managing school affairs. In that process of management, however, local school boards are apparently not sovereign." In Board of Education v. Pico, a suit brought originally in 1979 by junior high and high school students in New York, it was held by the Supreme Court of the United States that students are entitled to first amendment protection of their "right of access to information" which is not to be infringed upon by the denial of access to ideas with which the board disagrees. In Pico, this access occurs in the form of books acquired for the school library which are subsequently removed under the discretion of the school board.