WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Bible is here to stay in Palm Beach County public schools.
School board members voted unanimously Wednesday to keep the Bible — the only book that's been officially challenged in the School District of Palm Beach County — in schools.
The vote came after local civil rights activist and rabbi Barry Silver filed an objection to the Bible, more on principal than actually wanting to see the book out of schools.
Silver's challenge was first denied at the school level, then by Superintendent Mike Burke, and finally by the entire Palm Beach County School Board on Wednesday.
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About 30 people gathered outside school district headquarters to stand up against removing books from school shelves. They called it a dangerous practice and one that Silver, a parent himself, does not support, either. But he's going about it a different way.
"The Bible is at the top of the list of every category established by the governor and Florida Legislature for banning books," Silver said Wednesday.
Silver petitioned to have the Bible removed from Palm Beach County public schools for sexual content. He said if other books can be removed for the same thing, it should be done evenly.
"I hope the school board will send a message to the governor. Let us educate our children how we know. We don't need you to tell us how to do it," Silver said.
After the school and superintendent denied Silver's objection, it came to the school board Wednesday, which ultimately agreed unanimously that the Bible isn't going anywhere.
"It's clear to me Rabbi Silver's appeal is intended to send a message about the slippery slope of the perils of book banning," Burke said. "I am not comfortable banning a book to make a point or send a message."
Burke released the following official statement to WPTV following Wednesday's decision:
"In the School District of Palm Beach County, our school library media centers contain a comprehensive collection of materials, representing diverse points of view, designed to educate, affirm, and inspire all of our students.
It is important to note that the presence of religious books in our library media centers does not imply an endorsement or promotion of any particular religious belief or ideology. Rather, our intention is to provide access to a variety of learning materials that support the educational needs of our students.
In following School Board policy and state legislation, our rigorous review process of library media center materials has not resulted in the banning of any books to date."
While Palm Beach County has not removed any books to date, other local school districts have.
Jennifer Pippin with Moms For Liberty in Indian River County has led the effort to remove dozens of books there for sexual content. The Bible has never been on her list.
"Do I consider it to be even close to being in the same category? The Bible? Absolutely not," Pippin said.
After Wednesday's Palm Beach County School Board meeting, Silver told WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind that he was not surprised by the board's decision.
Susskind asked Silver if he truly wanted the Bible removed, and he said he would prefer it have a warning label in the library.
But Silver is not done yet. He said he plans to take legal action directed at the state.