Superintendent responds to viral book hearing clip

Superintendent Shane Andrew said the district continues to support Pre-Collegiate Club, but he did not speak about Club GAIN specifically.
Superintendent Shane Andrew.
Photo by Glory Reitz

On Friday morning, the conservative Twitter (X) account “Libs of TikTok” posted a 50-second clip from a January book hearing. 

The account posted the video of Terwilliger Elementary School’s assistant principal Garrett Jones answering questions from parent Crystal Marull about the book “Melissa.” The questions pertain to mentions of “porn” and “dirty magazines” in a book available in Terwilliger’s library. 

“UNBELIEVABLE. Garrett Jones, assistant principal for an elementary school in @AlachuaSchools says he thinks it’s appropriate for 8-year-old kids to be reading p*rnogr*phy and dirty magazines in school,” the post said. 

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Marull clarified in both the Jan. 23 hearing and at a recent School Board of Alachua County meeting that her complaint against the book was never that it contained pornographic material, but that it normalized talk of and use of such materials in the minds of young children. She told the school board that the hearing officer on Jan. 23 had misrepresented her claims when recommending against her challenge. 

Libs of TikTok posted a clip from the Melissa hearing on Feb. 16.
Courtesy of X Libs of TikTok posted a clip from the Melissa hearing on Feb. 16.

Marull’s challenge to “Melissa,” the book formerly known as “George,” is one of 11 she filed last fall. Her complaint about this book was based on the content’s age-appropriateness, educational value and lack of explanation from classroom instruction since state statute prohibits teaching on the book’s topic. 

In the Jan. 23 hearing where Marull questioned Jones, she asked whether the assistant principal would find the book appropriate for his teenage children to bring home, a similar vein previously followed by district attorney Susan Seigle when questioning Terwilliger’s media specialist, Amanda Swal. 

Jones, in a response similar to Swal’s, said if his children brought the book home it would “open up a conversation that we would have.” 

Jones said he had voted in the library advisory council to make the book available to grades 3-5, and when Marull asked him if he thought it appropriate for 8-year-olds to be reading about pornography and dirty magazines, Jones answered, “yes.” That was the soundbite Libs of TikTok posted Friday morning. 

When Jones was being cross-examined by the district attorney, he told her he did not find any pornographic content or description of specific sexual acts in the book when he read it. 

On Friday afternoon, Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Shane Andrew issued the following statement in response to Libs of TikTok’s post: 

“To be clear up front—this Superintendent, the district, and the staff believe no student should have access to pornographic materials in their schools. That belief is shared by the ACPS employee who has been the subject of recent social media postings about a book challenge. 

This is to set the record straight. 

On January 23, a formal hearing was held before a hearing officer regarding a challenge brought by an ACPS parent to the book ‘Melissa,’ previously published as ‘George,’ by Alex Gino. The hearing was videotaped. 

Earlier today, a very small segment of that video was posted on social media, including X (Twitter) and Facebook. That video was taken out of context and was misleading. 

The parent asked the ACPS witness several questions, including whether he felt it was appropriate for an 8-year-old to read “about pornography and dirty magazines” (emphasis added). However, the witness did not intend to convey that this book was, in fact, about pornography and dirty magazines. He certainly does not agree that it is appropriate for an elementary school student or any student to read pornographic materials. It is rather his belief that this particular book is not pornographic, does not violate state statutes and can therefore be read by elementary school students in grades 3-5. 

The parent never actually asked the ACPS witness if he believed this book is pornographic. The witness did clarify later in the hearing that he did not believe this book is pornographic. 

There are two sections of the book in which the words ‘dirty magazines’ or the word ‘porn’ are mentioned. They are as follows: 

The phrase ‘dirty magazine’ was used by a teenage boy taunting his little brother. The little brother was, in fact, not looking at a dirty magazine. 

The word ‘porn’ appeared later in the book, when the same older brother stated he knew his little brother was not reading porn. 

This is the full extent of the use of those two terms in the book. The book contains no pornographic scenes, pictures or descriptions. 

The hearing officer recommended that the book remain in the elementary school library. In her order, the hearing officer pointed out that the parent had not objected to the book based on it being pornographic. 

The School Board of Alachua County voted on February 6 to confirm the hearing officer’s decision. 

The district will continue to follow state and district laws and procedures in responding to parent concerns regarding books in our schools.” 

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Those words and terms shouldn’t be in elementary school books. Even if mentioned by a teen character in the book, they should t be admissible. Because it opens up the subject at a younger age. The book should be for teens only.
The other issue is the hearing moderator confused Jones’ teenage children with representative of elementary age students, when asking him if that book would be OK.

Bob J

It is becoming increasingly evident why Newberry has chosen to pursue a different path for its education system. The progressive ideologies of Gainesville do not align well with the values of the smaller towns.


These ideologies don’t align with any reasonable value system


I remember a day when job requirements contained the need for an ability to have effective communication, both oral and written.

It appears to have transformed into the ability to appear before advisory councils and retroactively respond to further questions.

THIS is progress?

Tim Marden

Dr. Murall didn’t ask him if it porn because that wasn’t here challenge. Her challenge is whether the book was appropriate. She never asserts this book is pornographic. The Press Release from ACPS confirms her belief that not only ACPS is, but the hearing officer is, twisting her the reasoning of her challenge.


I think you might have missed this part of the ACPS press release; it makes it clear that the ACPS understands that the challenge was not that the book contains porn. “In her order, the hearing officer pointed out that the parent had not objected to the book based on it being pornographic.” Certainly seems like there’s a lot of misunderstanding & misrepresentation from everyone involved.