(NEW YORK)— PEN America today called it a “shocking overreaction” as the superintendent of California’s Escondido Union School District decided to close all libraries to audit the entire collection after a book with allegedly sexually explicit content was reported to staff.

News accounts about the decision by Superintendent Luis A. Rankins-Ibarra to close the libraries did not indicate the title of the book or the genesis of the complaint. The closure of the school district’s libraries coincides with the nationwide observance of “Banned Books Week,” a nationwide effort to draw attention to the surge in book censorship attempts in recent years.

In response, Allison Lee, director of PEN America’s Los Angeles office, made the following comments:

“The decision by Superintendent Rankins-Ibarra to halt all school library services in the Escondido Union School District following “the discovery” of one book alleged to be “sexually explicit” is a shocking overreaction. This censorious action undermines the freedom to read for all families in the district, a cruel irony during Banned Books Week. We call for transparency regarding this decision and the audit process, and for the reopening of all school libraries in the Escondido Union School District without delay.”

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org 

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057