Thursday, June 29, 2006


Dover All Over

The Miami-Dade School Board recently ordered "Vamos a Cuba" -- a picture book for children in kindergarten through second grade -- removed from school library shelves because some parents say it portrays Cuba in a favorable light. Many in the Miami's Cuban exile community didn't like that.

In fact, the book has so incensed the board, that it pulled all 24 of the books in the children's travel series from the shelves.

School board attorney Julie Ann Rico warned members they'd be on shaky legal ground if they banned the book, but they did it anyway.

Now, the American Civil Liberties union is suing the school board, saying their decision was purely political and violates a Supreme Court decision that says: "Local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books."

For some on the school board, money -- as long as it's taxpayer money -- is no object.

Board member Rivas Logan, for example, says she's willing to pay whatever is necessary to defend the board's sketchy decision.

Reportedly, Attorney Richard Ovelman has signed a $25,000 initial contract and will be paid $414 an hour to represent the board. His chief assistant will get $270 per hour, and a third assistant will get $171 per hour.

If the school board loses in Miami federal court and takes its appeal as far as it can go it will be expensive. One school board member said they have been warned their legal fees could top $500,000 dollars.

If the school board loses, it will also have to pay the ACLU attorneys fees -- which could also be sizable. That money would come from Miami-Dade taxpayers.

Half a million bucks to ban a picture book that asks: "How do some people in Cuba get from place to place? What kinds of fruits grow in Cuba? Which spiky plant do some Cubans eat as a vegetable?"

Seems reasonable enough to us.

Update: NBC Channel 6 in Miami reports that: The Miami-Dade school district must keep a series of children's books banned by the county's school board until arguments stemming from a legal challenge to the ban can be heard next month, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Half a million bucks and they can't even take the book off the shelf? Oh yeah, go ahead, that seems reasonable.


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