Books with themes of diversity found in trash outside Staten Island elementary school

Lauren Glassberg Image
Monday, March 11, 2024
Several Black history and LGBTQ+ books thrown in the trash near school
Lauren Glassberg is in Eltingville, Staten Island with more on books found outside a school.

STATEN ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- An investigation is underway on Monday after some books were thrown out into the trash at an elementary school on Staten Island.

The books covering topics like Black history, LGBTQ themes and more were found with critical notes attached to them outside PS 55.

The books included a Black Panther book with a note saying "it wasn't approved", one about an immigrant on the border with the notice "our country has no room and it's not fair" and a roller derby book about a dad discussing being transgender and teenage girls having a crush on another girl.

A parent named Mike questioned whether certain subjects should be taught at the elementary school level in the first place.

"Certain books should be kept in, but certain books I've heard are a little bit controversial," Mike said. "I don't know which ones in particular, but, you know, maybe those should be removed."

Another parent of a PS 55 student told Eyewitness News she wasn't aware of any books being thrown out, but that she would love the immigrant story to be told because it resonates with her son.

"I want something like, help me, my son," Elen said. "Like when he asked me, 'why you speak Spanish?' I want something he likes to learn, you know, about the thing. So for me its good, keep them there."

Gothamist broke the story thanks to a tip from a woman who rescued boxes of books back in November.

The Department of Education says it's investigating the matter and that:

"Our public schools do not shy away from books that teach students about the diverse people and communities that make up the fabric of our society. We do not condone the messages found on these books and we are conducting an investigation to understand what happened in this situation."

The DOE said moving forward, school leadership will make sure guidelines are followed related to getting rid of any books or obsolete equipment.

Natasha Capers heads up the Coalition for Educational Justice. While she's appalled that the books were tossed, she hopes it creates more dialogue about diverse stories and voices.

"I don't think we don't have to condemn the school the educators we are all in this process, but I do hope they get some extra resources to have these conversations about why did we throw out these books and why did we not think they were acceptable to children," Capers said.

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