ATLANTA – Local school boards will have to develop policies to screen and potentially remove books from school libraries deemed harmful to minors under legislation that gained final passage in the Georgia Senate Wednesday.

This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

Senate Bill 226 passed the Republican-controlled chamber 29-21 along party lines. It already had passed the state House of Representatives last week 97-61, also on a party-line vote.

Under the bill, school principals would have seven business days to review complaints from parents that a given book is obscene and “lacking in serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.” Principals would have three additional days to determine whether a book should be removed from that school’s library and inform the parent of the decision.

Local school boards would have 30 calendar days to handle appeals of principals’ rulings.

The bill also requires school boards to post titles of books removed from the shelves on the system’s website within 15 business days of a determination.

School boards would have until Jan. 1 to develop policies for handling complaints. They would get help from the state Department of Education, which would have until Sept. 1 to develop and publish a model policy.

Opponents argued there are already local policies in place for handling complaints from a parent that a school library is displaying obscene material on its shelves inappropriate for minors.

Similar arguments of existing policies have come from educator groups and legislative Democrats about other bills majority Republicans have been considering this year. Opponents also have accused Republicans of pushing a conservative education agenda to win votes in an election year.

Senate Bill 226 is the first to gain final passage and go to GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who is expected to sign it.

Other Republican-backed legislation specifying how Georgia schools should teach about racism and a Parents’ Bill of Rights aimed at guaranteeing parental involvement in their children’s education are still pending, as is legislation prohibiting transgender students born male from competing in most girls’ sports.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams/Capitol Beat

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.