Bristol County

Controversial book ban in North Attleboro reversed

NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. — In North Attleborough, a controversial school book ban has been reversed.

The book is called, “Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice.”

“Woke” was removed from the school library at North Attleboro’s Martin Elementary School when a community member challenged its appropriateness.

An online description of the book says quote: “‘Woke’ is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice.”

North Attleborough’s Superintendent John Antonucci said he followed School Committee guidelines and convened a committee before deciding to take the book out of the school library’s circulation.

In town, word of the book ban quickly spread.

“It’s just frustrating that this stuff is happening here. You expect it in like, Florida, or something, but in North Attleborough?” said Sam Dragunas.

“There’s going to be things in life that are going to offend us. But why a book?” said Marie Paul.

At Monday night’s Town Council meeting, councilors spoke out against the ban.

And Darius Gregory, the only person of color on the board, walked out.

“In the essence of that book, I basically stood up in that meeting and I said this is unacceptable,” Gregory said.

On the day after the meeting, Gregory met with the superintendent behind closed doors.

“I just don’t understand why we would ban that book when everything we’ve done as a community has been trying to bring people together,” Gregory said.

Shortly after that meeting, Superintendent Antonucci reversed the ban. “Woke” is now back on the school library shelf.

In a statement, he said quote:

“As superintendent, I do not support the outright banning of books, but I do believe that it is wholly appropriate in an educational environment to have a procedure in place to discuss, challenge, consider and reconsider all materials that may be made available to our students. And, certainly, not every book is appropriate for every age/grade level…it has become evident that we missed the mark, and it is clear that our policy/procedure in these matters needs to be re-evaluated.”

North Attleborough School Committee Chair Tasha Buzzell said she’s glad the ban is over.

“I think it’s the right result I think it’s going to be controversial. We expect that. I do think it’s the right result,” Buzzell said.

Now that the banned book is back on library shelves, school officials say their work is not over.

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