After reviewing a complaint filed on November 9th, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has found that no Flagler Schools employee committed criminal wrongdoing by adding All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson into Flagler school libraries. The complaint, filed by School Board member Jill Woolbright, saw the community starkly divided over whether Johnson’s book constituted pornography, and whether someone should be held accountable for its presence in schools.
The action of filing the complaint was outside of standard protocol for such issues; those filing a complaint about a piece of material are typically supposed to do so at the individual school level before escalating further.
The results of this investigation now kick the issue back to the School Board, who heard 79 public comments in an almost six hour meeting on Tuesday. No action was taken on Johnson’s book, or on three others which have also become the subject of scrutiny. The verbal clashes of protestors and disruptors outside before the meeting drew the intervention of Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and Bunnell Police Department officers.
The FCSO Investigative Services Division conducted the review of Woolbright’s complaint, and with consultation from General Counsel, the determination was reached that no part of the process of adding All Boys Aren’t Blue to school libraries constituted criminal action.
The Sheriff’s Office also reviewed several statements made over social media and in person at the Tuesday meeting which had been perceived by some as threats. Woolbright had alleged that a tweet by Johnson saying ‘finish her’ had constituted a threat to herself. In the FCSO’s conclusion, nothing reported met the legal definition of a threat, and all would be considered protected under the First Amendment.
Sheriff Rick Staly released the following statement on wrapping up Woolbright’s complaint:
“As indicated by our investigators’ review of this particular case, this complaint does not rise to the level of criminal activity. The Sheriff’s Office does not determine what material is appropriate for the students of Flagler County. The Flagler County School Board has the constitutional duty and responsibility to determine the content of all materials used in the classroom and made available in the school library. The Board is responsible for developing proper policies and procedures to evaluate and purchase these materials. The Board’s policies and practices permitted the purchase and circulation of the book in question.
“The determination of whether the book is appropriate for school libraries rests on the shoulders of the Flagler County School District leadership. This matter should have been addressed by the School Board and its District leadership before being submitted to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office as a criminal complaint. Our review concluded the allegations did not meet the threshold of a criminal offense and therefore are not a matter to be investigated by the Sheriff’s Office. While I have my personal opinion on this issue, I am sworn to uphold Florida law and not my personal opinion.”
In summary: Jill Woolbright felt the addition of the book was a crime, and now the Flagler Sheriff’s Office has concluded otherwise. The next Flagler School Board meeting in which the Board will be in position to act on this and other matters will take place on December 21st, at 6:00 pm at the Government Services Building in Bunnell.
For more information on the controversy surrounding Jill Woolbright and All Boys Aren’t Blue, read our other two informative articles:
- A Full Breakdown Of Jill Woolbright’s Efforts To Remove ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ From School Libraries (November 15th)
- Demonstrators Face Off Before And During Flagler School Board Meeting (November 18th)
UPDATE 5:02 pm: Jill Woolbright has issued a response to the Sheriff’s Office’s statement:
“Here is my statement regarding the sheriff’s press release regarding the book.
“As fate would have it, I was at a luncheon event today also attended by Sheriff Staly and was able to have a conversation with him to be sure to understand his decision on the book in question.
“The Sheriff did not feel he could take the investigation to the next level because the school district needed to do their job with their policies and procedures. As I pointed out at the 11/16 1:00 workshop meeting, it was discovered that Policy 414 was outdated as the attorney failed to update it with the sitting board at that time in accordance to state statutes after the 2018 legislative session to include SS 847 on the prohibition of Obscenity. The Obscenity Chapter was not even referenced.”
“The next steps for Flagler Schools is two fold:
“1. Policy 414 needs to be updated to be current with state law.
2. A committee needs to make a judgement call on the placement of this book in our schools or not.
“What is clear is that Flagler County residents on both sides of this issue are very interested in the districts future decision on the book and if these type books will be in our libraries or not.”
– Jill Woolbright