DEWITT, Mich. (WLNS) – DeWitt residents are upset with the way the school district disposed of hundreds books when they were found in a school recycling dumpster over the weekend.
The books that were thrown away range from old textbooks to gently used picture books. One man said while he understands that lesson plans change, he’d rather see books head to young readers than the recycling bin.
“Okay, I get it, curriculums change. But the 90 percent plus were brand new. Like the typical stuff that you would be sent home to your child’s backpacks that say come to the Scholastic books America and buy. Many were sealed, 60 plus,” said Clay Coey, the man who collected the discarded books.
He said on Friday, a parent from the district posted online about books she found in a paper recycling dumpster behind a school. He said when he checked it out after work, he was shocked to see the amount of books in good condition. He said he found several book sets barely used among older library books. He called throwing them out wasteful.
“Brand new books being tossed down there is complete government waste. Waste of your tax dollars. A slap to the face of tax payers and honestly, as you heard in my speech at the board meeting, I don’t care who is in charge of it. I’m just glad its taken care of, water under the bridge,” he said.
Coey said he spend the weekend collecting the books and giving them away to neighbors from around mid-Michigan.
The superintendent declined to be interviewed but shared a statement with 6 News that was read before Monday night’s school board meeting. She said some of the discarded books were supposed to be removed in 2019 after a new curriculum was adopted, while level reader books did not align with the district’s literacy program or diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Coey said he just wants the district to make better use of removed books.
“There’s always families out there in need. There are underprivileged children. You have shelters, battered women’s shelters, you got people who lose their homes to a fire. They can be repurposed, loved and cherished by anybody. You just don’t throw away a brand new book, in fact you don’t throw any book away,” Coey said.
Superintendent Shanna Spickard said she has reviewed the board’s policy and will work with the cabinet to find better ways to make use of old books. As for Coey, he expects the three boxes of remaining books to be picked up by the end of the week.