Sarasota School Board to hear appeal over banning anti-racist book

The Sarasota County School Board will hear a challenge against a library book on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at noon.
The Sarasota County School Board will hear a challenge against a library book on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at noon.

As new Florida laws send school districts into a flurry over which school books are appropriate and legal to have in classrooms, Sarasota County could be poised to toss a book from its shelves.

At noon Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Sarasota County School Board is set to hear an appeal on a failed book challenge against "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

Allison Euker, a parent of a student at Venice Middle School, filed a materials challenge in May of 2022. Following a review by the school and the district which ultimately failed to remove the book from the library, Euker appealed the decision which triggered a hearing of the School Board. As of Friday, the book remains available in various Sarasota County school libraries for 6-12th grade students.

"Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" is a #1 New York Times bestseller that explores racism and systemic racism in the U.S. Members of the district review committee characterized the book as well-written, but perhaps difficult to understand for the age level. Because the book was not assigned reading, but rather a library book to be checked out, the committee deemed the book appropriate since a student could just return the book if they disagreed or were confused with the content.

"(This book) is one-sided, and that is ok," one committee member wrote in their review. "...It takes books like this for us to look at our past and see what problems we need to solve today that were created in the past. And then to have honest, direct and uncomfortable conversations to truly move America forward."

The committee also checked the book against new Florida Laws HB 7, HB 1557, and HB 1467, which relate to parental involvement in education and governing content in classroom materials. It found that "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" did not violate any laws.

In her challenge, Euker said the book promotes critical race theory and teaches children that white people are inherently racist. Critical race theory is a graduate-level academic framework that asserts racism is more than prejudice, but is also systemic in the U.S.'s laws and institutions. It is not part of K-12 curriculum in Sarasota County or Florida, despite Gov. Ron DeSantis passing legislation banning the teaching of it.

Tom Edwards, who sits on the School Board, said he isn't sure how the board would vote on a book ban, citing the conservative board majority's decision to fire former Superintendent Brennan Asplen despite consecutive "highly effective" evaluations.

"Banning books is a core value in fascism, and banning books in a school district is a very slippery slope," he said.

Follow Herald-Tribune Education Reporter Steven Walker on Twitter at @swalker_7. He can be reached at

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Sarasota County School Board set to hear book challenge