The Miami-Dade County, Fla., school board did not violate the First Amendment when it removed a children’s book about Cuba from the shelves of school libraries, a federal appeals court has ruled.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled 2-1 to overturn the ruling of a federal district judge. The book is Vamos a Cuba!, or “A Visit to Cuba,” part of a series of books about countries for 4- to 8-year-old readers.
In 2006, a Miami-Dade father objected to the presence of the book in his daughter’s elementary school because of inaccuracies and because the book’s descriptions of daily life ignored the realities of the Communist regime under the nation’s longtime leader, Fidel Castro.
A school district review committee and the then-superintendent rejected the parent’s request to remove the book. But the Miami-Dade school board voted 6-3 to remove the Cuba book, along with others in the series.
That decision was challenged in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida as a violation of local residents’ First Amendment rights to free speech. A federal district court issued a preliminary injunction barring the removal of the book.
A version of this article appeared in the February 11, 2009 edition of Education Week