Flagler County School Board member Jill Woolbright on Nov. 9 filed a sheriff’s report charging it is a “crime” to have George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue, the critically acclaimed and award-winning book for teens about growing up Black and gay, on the shelves of high school and middle school libraries. (See the sheriff’s report here.) Woolbright accused Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt of not informing other school board members about her (Woolbright’s) concerns about that and other titles she wants banned. (See: “Jill Woolbright Wants 4 Books Banned Over Anti-Racism, LGBTQ, Police Violence and Rape Themes; District Removes Them Pending Review“).
Sunday evening, School Board member Cheryl Massaro addressed the issue in a statement she posted on her Facebook page.
As I approach the end of my first year as a School Board member for Flagler County Schools, I have come to realize that patience is by far the most important trait needed to successfully perform my duties. During the past year I’ve had to use a great deal of self-restraint in order to not react when faced with the multitude of politicized issues. It is important to note that these matters are being faced by school board member nationwide. However, today I can no longer remain silent and allow a rogue school board member to destroy the hard work of our current and prior board members, as that of all of the outstanding administrators, teachers and staff who have contributed to making Flagler Schools a top-notch, competitive school district.
First and foremost, Ms. Woolbright does not speak for the entire School Board. In fact, the only board member who is permitted to speak on behalf of the school board is our current Chair, Mr. Trevor Tucker. While I firmly believe that Ms. Woolbright is entitled to freely voice her opinion on district issues, I also believe she crossed the line when she filed a criminal complaint against the Flagler Schools’ Superintendent and Attorney with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office for permitting books that she believes to be pornographic to be available to middle and high school students. By failing to allow for the investigative process to unfold, she bypassed established District policies and procedures.
Everyone knows the wheels of justice turn slowly, and that is for a purpose – to avoid mistakes and knee jerk reactions. I believe that by not permitting the district administrative team time to conduct a thorough investigation, Ms. Woolbright committed a grave mistake, and one that borders on a potential ethics violation. As I stated earlier, Ms. Woolbright is entitled to her opinion; however, she is not entitled to throw the other School Board members and District Administrators under the bus, based on her personal opinions. Effective school boards must operate as a team, compromise, and often must agree to disagree. Ms. Woolbright has demonstrated that she is not a team player, nor does she allow for the proper course of action to occur.
Ms. Woolbright is advocating for the removal of a number of books from the School District’s media centers based on her perception of their content. Let me make this abundantly clear – I do not support censorship of these highly acclaimed and award-winning teen books! The beauty of books lies within the eyes of the beholder. In 1982, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in the Island Trees School District v, Pico by Pico, 457 U.S. 853: The First Amendment imposes limitations upon a local school board’s exercise of its discretion to remove books from high school and junior high school libraries. Pp. 457 U.S. 863-872. Students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the school house gates.
In closing, I believe no one said it better than Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of Speak, an award-winning teen book that deals with teenage rape, depression and domestic violence, and is one of the books on Ms. Woolbright’s proposed, banned book list. Ms. Anderson stated: “Censoring books with difficult, adolescent issues does not protect anybody. Quite the opposite. It leaves kids in the darkness and makes them vulnerable. Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Our children cannot afford to have the truth of the world withheld from them.”
Cheryl Massaro was elected to the Flagler County School Board to a four-year term in November 2020. Jill Woolbright was elected to a two-year term, to complete the term of Andy Dance, who resigned in a run for the County Commission.
Thank you for publicly standing up for what is right and condemning what is wrong. It takes courage to lead by example.
I totally support Ms. Massaro’s views to this issue and hope thar Ms. Woolbright will be removed from the school board along with Ms. McDonald!!
BRAVO for speaking out, Cheryl Massaro! It is astonishing to see people like Ms. Woolbright blatantly abuse the office they were entrusted with, for political grandstanding. Seems like she could benefit from meeting with the kids these books speak to, and learn something about them.
Heathen Lady says
Excellentlll Thank you. 👍
Bravo! While the book may not be appropriate for youngsters, it should be available for the seniors who will be going out into a diverse world
Merrill Shapiro says
Cheryl Massaro speaks the truth! Truth is a pretty precious commodity these days. We should all bask in the beauty of her truth and resolve to become intolerant of the falsehoods we hear so often .
Stephen Smith says
Thank you Ms. Massaro.
Cheryl, thank you! I’m glad you are a Flagler School Board member.
The dude says
Ignoring laws and flinging poo seems to be all that trump republicans can do…
They can’t make the buses run on time.
They can’t keep our kids safe.
All they do is fling poo.
Darrla D Griffith says
You are pretending that your “hard work” (liberal indoctrination) is somehow more important than the views of the parents or in fact anyone else. These adult subjects are being twisted and forced down the throat of people who simply do not hold your political views. Of course the liberal mindset believes that anyone in disagreement with these narrow views of yours must be defective. That indicates the defectiveness of your views. Take a step back and realize, just because you have a goal, a direction you wish to push – does not give you the authority to make everyone’s minds up for them. Not everyone believes that sex, race and gender needs to be taught to children below the age to comprehend these subjects. Your job is to instruct, not indoctrinate. Back to reading writing and math. Stop taking culture out of the hands of the parents where it belongs. The majority of parents do not agree that you have more authority over who their children become than they do.
You think you are the moral superior in this case, you are wrong headed, pushy and acting a touch psychotic about having your world view rejected.
You are not “in charge” of The People. You work for us.
The dude says
How is simply having a book available in the library “forcing” anything down anyone’s throat?
Until you supporters of pussy grabbers and pseudo puritans created this issue out of whole cloth, just to gin up grievance and hate, I’d bet that 99.9% of the kids didn’t even know these books existed.
Like I’ve said. These morons in the FCSB need to focus on their jobs first. After they can manage the most basic task of getting the school buses to run on time… THEN they can focus on their stretch goals of book burning and right wing indoctrination.
You are in charge of YOUR children, and feel free to monitor what books they read. By removing books from school libraries, YOU are pushing YOUR views on other parents who want their teenagers to have access to books that help inform about the world around them, as is their right. You and Ms. Woolbright are the ones forcing your views down other parents’ throats by censoring and banning books. Parent your own children as you see fit and do not impact other families by taking away their opportunity to learn and grow through books.
Banning of books and censorship has been shown time and again throughout history to be an abomination. Anyone who supports this needs to take a step back and take a hard look at themselves.
Percy's mother says
You must be referring to Jill Woolbright. Right?
The hypocrisy in this post is amazing. Indoctrination? You mean like pressing religious viewpoints into children? Indoctrination? Like what right wing media does to you as you parrot their talking points? Indoctrination? Like having a single school board member violate the first amendment because a book hurt her feelings?
Edwin Herrin says
I’m glad Jill is shining light and transparency on the tyranny of the school board. Parents need to know what board members are subjecting our children to without parents consent.
K Mineau says
I agree with you. I’m so sick of liberals trying to shove their views down our throats and our children. Parents should have the say over what their child is reading when it comes to this type of material.
I agree with you.
“I’m so sick of “right wingers “trying to shove their views down our throats and our children. Parents should have the say over what their child is reading when it comes to this type of material”.
Thank you to little Ms. Woodbright, she made sure that kids now know about these books, I wonder if she has a marketing background. It would be interesting to see how many times the forbidden books were borrowed before her controversy vs after.
Thank you so much Cheryl for having the courage to stand up and speak the truth. While some may well agree with Jill Woolbright and her petty grandstanding efforts, that is not the majority of citizens. Some of our students live the reality of being gay, transgender, experiencing rape, incest, and threats upon their lives whether Ms. Woolbright wishes to acknowledge that fact or not. How much worse it is to feel alone and afraid. A book can be a private means of exploring these concerns and questions, understanding oneself and others, and determining how best to move forward. It is not within the rights of any school board member to infringe upon that opportunity for those seeking answers.
Banning books is not the answer. Our students need the opportunity to read about experiences that may reflect what is happening in their lives and the lives of their peers. It’s about opening books and opening minds.
My quest is this: has anyone opposing these books read them?
It appears they haven’t.
Thank you Ms. Massero!
Willy Jones says
Ms. Wool right shoe her total ignorance of school procedures in addressing her view on questionable reading material available for high school students to read. Further, by not giving the superintendent and school board attorney due process to look into the matter, she filed a criminal complaint on the two. She is lucky I’m not the sheriff. I would have thrown her ass out of sheriff’s office with this stupid complaint. The same ignorance abounds with the “equity” nonsense. I would question her mental health/stability and her ability to perform her school board responsibilities.
Old Guy says
Ms Massasoit is absolutely correct that the district’s established procedure should have been followed. Mrs Woolbright’s efforts to circumvent this procedure should not be allowed. What should have been a simple complaint followed by an administrative review has become red meat for the MAGA inspired rage politics that are rapidly taking hold in our nation.
Just Saying says
I fully support Ms. Massaro and her assessment of this controversial topic. Thank you for attempting to bring some semblance of sanity and critical thought to the School Board. This is not only about disagreeing with the content of a particular book, it is about a complete effort to circumvent rules and procedures that are in place and were ignored. You don’t start building a house with the roof. You start with the foundation and work through tried and true practices that were established for a reason. Woolbright and McDonald need to go. Period.
when weeds grow in our gardens we pull them to increase growth
Thank you Cheryl Massaro for speaking out. You are so right.
Glad we finally got an intelligent board member.
As far as I know, her complaint was not filed on behalf the school board. Other board members, like Cheryl Massaro, also have a right to their opinions, but not the right to silence Jill Woolbright through administrative procedures. If her complaint is valid, the books should be removed, according to law.
Flagler County has 1 Hero today ! Imagine how easy it can be for the rest of you to tell these people about love and acceptance, education and what’s right!
Flagler County has 1 hero today!!
Denise Calderwood says
“The Truth you can’t handle the truth “is a quote from A Few Good Men. The Truth is that our whole country is in a disarray and our county is heading in the same direction. Thank you Cheryl for speaking out. We should celebrate any kid who actually will go to a library and check out a book! This generation is going to be the ones to inherit the messes we are making now…..have we failed to realize that young people have instant access to all kinds of information on their phone so remember young people need role models to follow and leaders to look up to so be one of those leaders and stand up for the truth that no books should be banned or burned because what follows next is unspeakable…..
Sadly,the children who may find solace in the written words of the book will no longer be able to because of one person’s opinion. Is Ms. Woolbright going to extend herself to a student who has very important questions regarding gender, sexuality and other issues they may be dealing with? Will she answer their questions?
Even if the book remains on the shelf, how secure would a student be trying to take it out? Are we really going backwards and banning books again? We should be proud to have Cheryl Massaro looking out for our children.