The Gist: Superintendent Chris Ragsdale addressed rumors and provided clarification about several recent controversies in the Cobb County School District, including the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl, book fairs, and the presence of explicit material in school libraries.
What Happened: Cobb County School District Superintendent Chris Ragsdale tackled multiple instances of what he termed “misinformation” at the recent September Board of Education meeting. Addressing claims that ranged from the cancelation of the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl to supposed book-banning in the District, Ragsdale provided clarifications aimed to quell rumors.
First up, Ragsdale claimed the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl is still a go. This assurance comes despite contrary reports suggesting participants might face employment repercussions. “Those individuals are doing nothing more than engaging in fear-mongering and are completely irresponsible in their actions and statements,” he said.
On the topic of book fairs, the Superintendent put another rumor to rest: they’re not canceled. However, Ragsdale did add, “We will be looking into the companies with which the District will be working with to conduct future book fairs, ensuring those companies agree to follow and abide by the District’s policies and State law.”
Ragsdale’s Reasons: Ragsdale stressed that the district’s focus remains on students’ safety and education. “We have an independent professional obligation to protect students from lewd and vulgar materials regardless of whether any parent, group, or outside entity files a complaint,” he said.
Ragsdale left little doubt about the District’s next steps. Explicit books that don’t align with the District’s policies are on the chopping block. “If you need someone to blame for deciding to remove books, ‘Flamer,’ and ‘Me, Early, and the Dying Girl,’ you can blame me,” he made clear.
Ragsdale stated the District will ensure that companies supplying books will need to adhere to Board policies and State law.