Mat-Su School Board bans 1 book after months of committee review

The Mat-Su Borough School Board meeting on Feb. 21, 2024.
The Mat-Su Borough School Board meeting on Feb. 21, 2024. (Screenshot from MSBSD meeting)

The Mat-Su School Board has removed the book “This Ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover from library circulation.

The  6-1 vote Wednesday is the board’s first action on one of 56 books that the district removed from school libraries over a year ago, following public complaints.

The board also voted to send 18 books to the district administration to determine what age restrictions, if any, should be placed on them. 

The controversy in the state’s second largest school district arose amid a national conservative movement to ban books deemed offensive. At public hearings last spring, people complained about dozens of titles, saying they were pornographic. That prompted the district to pull 56 books from school library shelves.

The school board created a Library Citizens Advisory Committee last fall to review them.

The advisory committee recommended removing Hoover’s novel from circulation. 

“The committee unanimously concluded one title meets the elements of criminal obscenity under Alaska law,” board member Kathy McCollum said.

Of the 18 other books forwarded to the administration for further review, the committee concluded just five of those “might be obscene.” 

Kendal Kruse was one of the school board members who voted in favor of removal. 

“I also very much appreciate the transparency that none of this process was done in hiding and secret form,” she said. “The conversations are had, they are recorded, they are published.”

The removed book is a romance novel that describes domestic abuse. The board amended recommendations from the committee, but did not offer its own explanation for dropping the book.

Many of the challenged books feature characters of color or LGBTQ+ characters, a key point in a federal lawsuit Mat-Su students and their families filed last November.

The President of the American Library Association, Emily Drabinski, said in a recent interview that book challenges in Alaska follow a nationwide pattern of censoring material depicting LGBTQ+ experiences, as well as books about Black and Indigenous characters.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mat-Su School Board sparked international outcry over their removal of five books from the curriculum. 

Tim Rockey is the producer of Alaska News Nightly and covers education for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at or 907-550-8487. Read more about Tim here

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