After getting intense criticism, the corporate owner of a west Raleigh apartment complex is reversing its decision to ban a school bookmobile from coming onto its property to work with students.
In a statement posted Saturday on its Facebook page, Florida-based Landmark Apartment Trust said that after getting feedback from residents and the community, it will now allow the bookmobile from Lacy Elementary School “to complete this summer’s activities” at Grand Arbor Reserve off Lake Boone Trail. The company said that once it gets documentation from the school that the volunteers from the bookmobile have been fully vetted that it will “confidently support the program for next year and many years to come.”
“Given the feedback that we have received from our valued residents and members of the broader community it is clear that the decision to suspend Lacy Elementary Schools bookmobile has offended many,” Landmark said.
Volunteers from Lacy Elementary in Raleigh, including several teachers, load up their cars once a week with donated books to read with students in the neighborhoods where they live. The goal is to keep kids reading during the summer months so they don’t lose what they learned during the school year.
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During a stop at Grand Arbor Reserve last month, Lacy volunteers were told by apartment management staff that they couldn’t return.
After news about the ban was published Friday, people took to social media to criticize Landmark for banning the bookmobile but allowing ice cream trucks on the property. Words such as “shameful,” “short-sighted disservice” and “atrocious” were used to describe the decision to forbid any event at the complex unless it’s sponsored by Landmark.
As late as Friday night, Landmark said in a statement on Facebook that “while we are unable to support this important initiative as we have in the past, we are currently exploring other ways to do so.” That response drew more criticism, including some on the company’s Facebook page.
“You commend the school’s efforts but you obstruct their ability to make the efforts,” Peter Franklin wrote in his reply to Friday’s statement. “Corporate double speak.”
By Saturday, Landmark had reversed the decision on the ban but said it had initially been done for safety reasons because it didn’t have documentation showing that all the volunteers from Lacy were properly screened.
“We believe that this is a very important endeavor, and our intention was not to stifle the schools efforts to promote reading during the summer,” Landmark said Saturday. “The safety and security of our residents and their families are our top priority and our policies and procedures serve to support their well-being.”
The Wake County school system thanked those who had lobbied for the ban to be dropped.
“To our amazing, amazing, amazing community: a million thanks,” the school system tweeted Saturday. “Let’s all read a book this weekend to celebrate!”