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Committee votes to recommend keeping controversial YA book in an LCPS high school library

Juan Garcia (right) and Sara Smith
Scott Brocato
Juan Garcia (right) and Sara Smith

After a hearing in the Las Cruces Public Schools board room, a randomly-chosen seven-person committee of four teachers and three parents voted 6-1 in favor of keeping the book “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)” in the Mayfield High School library. The book was originally brought to the attention of the LCPS school board by Juan Garcia, chairman of the Coalition of Conservatives in Action, and Sara Smith, a member of the New Mexico Freedoms Alliance. Both made a case before Thursday night’s committee of why they felt the book should be removed, with both reading aloud passages of the book’s more graphic content. Afterwards, Juan Garcia gave his thoughts on the committee’s decision.

“I’m very shocked because of the fact that the folks who supported this book, they’re basically condoning pedophilia, sadomasochism—not for an adult, but for a kid,” Garcia said. “So if this is where we’re going, and if the school upholds this decision, the school is complicit.”

Sara Smith said they would appeal the decision.

“Absolutely, we are,” she said. “This book really violates federal and state statutes, so it has no place in a school. It meets all the definitions for what obscenity is when it comes to minors, because it has such explicit sexual content.”

Karen Hanson-Sharp, Mayfield High School’s librarian who earlier had defended her decision to include the book in the school’s library, said that the committee’s decision was appropriate. She added that before the controversy, the book had been checked out only once.

“It was checked out by only one student pretty quickly after I got it, and then it’s just been sitting on the shelf,” she said. “Since this controversy has started, I’ve had quite a few people come in and ask about it, but it hasn’t been available right now until we had a decision.”

The Associate Superintendent will now forward the committee’s recommendation to the Superintendent for his consideration within ten working days of the hearing. If the superintendent then approves, Hanson-Sharp said that “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)” will be returned the library’s shelves.

Scott Brocato has been an award-winning radio veteran for over 35 years. He has lived and worked in Las Cruces since 2016, and you can hear him regularly during "All Things Considered" from 4 pm-7 pm on weekdays. Off the air, he is also a local actor and musician, and you can catch him rocking the bass with his band Flat Blak around Las Cruces and El Paso.
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