Before the petition, "Druids" was found in four libraries across the county. The book was removed from Hughes Middle School once the petition was filed because it was not deemed necessary for middle school readers.
Concerned parent Kathy Stohr submitted her challenge to the Department of Information Technology, the department in charge of school libraries. Her reasons stem from the sexually explicit themes throughout the book, themes she says are inappropriate for middle school and high school students.
After convening a committee to review the book and holding three meetings, there was a unanimous decision by the committee to keep "Druids" in school libraries. Stohr appealed the decision to the School Board, which approved the book for high school libraries by a 9 to 2 vote. Tuesday night's decision is final.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has one of the contested copies on its shelves.
Head librarian Linda Vretos attributes the book's recent popularity to the challenge.
"About the only people reading it at this point are the teachers in the building and parent volunteers," Vretos said. "It's going out, but it's not going out to the kids this year. The adults are trying to get their hands on it" to learn what the controversy is about, she said.
As head librarian at TJ for two years, Vretos said "Druids" is not a typical book to which TJ students flock.
"Most of the kids here read science fiction," Vretos said.
"Druids" is a 400-page historical book retelling Celtic history during the Gallic Wars.
Stephanie Byrnes, librarian at West Springfield High School, said the book is "not popular" among students at West Springfield.
"It was checked out twice in the last 10 years," Byrnes said.
West Springfield Principal David Smith said his school will carry out the School Board's wishes.
"We will let the process run its course," Smith said. He will pull it from the shelves if the school board decides to ban it; otherwise, he said the book will remain.
School Board member Kaye Kory from the Mason District said she does not favor banning the book.
"I have read the majority of the book and have also given it to a high school student in my community to review. The book has a lot to offer, it is solidly written," Kory said. "It deserves a place in a high school library."
"I think there is a very big difference between a book being on a required reading list and being in the library," Kory said. "Druids" is not required reading, nor taught in the curriculum.
Mychele Brickner, at-large school board member, contested the book having a place on a school library shelf.
After reading a sexually explicit passage outloud, Brickner said, "I guess I have to ask the board, what is the value of our children reading these passages?"
Brickner supported Lee District representative Chris Braunlich's motion to ban the book from all middle school and high school libraries.
Stuart Gibson, representative from Hunter Mill, said only two passages in the 400-page book are sexually explicit.
" I thought the book was extremely well written," Gibson said, noting the richly descriptive vocabulary Llyweleyn uses.
Gibson opposed Braunlich's motion. He and eight of his fellow members favored the approved motion, introduced by at-large member Robert Frye. Frye's motion supported Superintendent Daniel Domenech's recommendation to keep the book out of middle school libraries, but to allow it to remain in the high school system.
Stohr, who is no novice to challenging books in the Fairfax County Public Schools library system, successfully had "Daughters of Eve" by Lois Duncan removed from elementary and middle school libraries.
"I always review what my kids read, and when I saw the book ["Daughters of Eve"], I decided I better take a look at it," Stohr said. Shocked by the feminist agenda, pro-abortion attitude and lack of punishment for destroying school property and murdering of a character's father that runs throughout "Daughters of Eve," Stohr petitioned to have it removed.
"Daughters of Eve" was removed from all Fairfax County elementary schools and middle schools following Stohr's challenge.