Gilbert superintendent releases plan for redacting abortion text; asks board to reconsider

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

GILBERT, Ariz. -- Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has released a plan for redacting passages about abortion from a high school biology textbook following a vote last month by the school board.

But Kishimoto made it clear that her real recommendation is for the board to reconsider its decision before it's too late.

The plan calls for all "Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections" textbooks to be collected at the end of the school year.

The teachers would then weigh in on the best method for redacting the unwanted information without causing significant damage to the books, which are used in honors classes.

Finally, teachers would be paid to eliminate the information over summer break.

However, Kishimoto noted in her report that she does not agree with the board altering the textbooks.

"I believe there are potential legal challenges including copyright infringements as well as First Amendment infringements," she said.

The textbook contains a chapter on birth control and mentions a drug that induces abortion. The board's decision to redact that information is based on an Arizona state law that requires public schools to present childbirth and adoption as preferred to elective abortion.

"The law is very clear," board member Julie Smith said. "We're not supposed to interpret the law; we're supposed to follow the law and what the law says."

But Kishimoto is telling her bosses that the textbooks don't need to be altered to comply with the law, and she noted that students growing up in the Internet age will simply find the missing information online.

Furthermore, the superintendent said the board's recent action has created "significant teacher concern that there is a breakdown of structure between the board and teachers."

Her report ends by recommending the board reverse course.

How the information would be redacted remains undecided. Board members have suggested marking over the passage or ripping out the page entirely.

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