The Williamsville School Board Tuesday rejected a call by a group of angry parents to pull a science fiction book about a future in which the planet is ruled by cruel "Overlords" who harvest the minds and bodies of children from Transit Middle School's library.
The board voted 7-0, with one abstention, to keep the book, "Shade's Children," by Garth Nix, in the library.
There was no comment by the board, except for assurances by President Sharon M. Harris-Ewing that all district procedures for reviewing such complaints had been followed.
That was little consolation for the group of parents who showed up at the board meeting to make a case for removing "Shade's Children," which they told the trustees contained graphic scenes of violence, sexual innuendo and extensive use of profanity, all inappropriate for middle schoolers.
They said legal action is now being considered by the group.
"This book is vulgar, obscene and educationally unsuitable," said Jennifer Frey, the mother who started the protest after her 11-year-old brought the book home from the Transit Middle School library.
At Tuesday's meeting, parents presented a petition they said had been signed by 295 parents protesting the book. Frey said those who signed had assumed books containing such content were not allowed in Williamsville's school libraries and accused the district of not having policies to "safeguard our children from unwillingly being subjected to profanity, a sexually explicit scene or a disturbing graphic killing."
She recommended a computerized flagging system identifying books with profanity and other adult content, with parents signing permission slips before the books could be checked out.
"Shade's Children" tells a futuristic tale of the world being dominated by a handful of "Overlords" who harvest the minds and bodies of children to produce half-human, half-mechanical warriors.
A representative of the Williamsville Parent-Teacher Council spoke against removing the book from shelves. Marilyn Feuerstein, co-president of the council, said that while parents can choose what their own children read, they should not have the right to determine what is acceptable for other parents' children.
The best libraries, she said, contain books that are often intellectually challenging or controversial. But if every parent with an objection could get a book pulled, "Where would it end?" she said.
"There wouldn't be much left" in the library, she said. "Do not go down a road that will undermine Williamsville's excellence."
Frey first brought her objections to the book to the school's attention last October. A panel set up to review the book recommended it be kept, as did Superintendent Ann B. Fuqua. The parent then appealed to the board, which has the final say.