- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The management of a Raleigh apartment complex has banned an elementary school bookmobile from coming to the property, citing a company policy that forbids events not sponsored by the corporate owner.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports (https://bit.ly/1I9imr7) teachers from Lacy Elementary School load their cars once a week with donated books to read with students in the neighborhoods where they live. One of the stops was the Grand Arbor Reserve complex in west Raleigh. The goal is to keep kids reading during the summer months so they don’t lose what they learned during the school year.

During a stop at the complex last month, school volunteers were told by apartment management staff that they couldn’t return.

“This new policy serves to protect the interests of our residents and the property owner,” Jeannette Steele, regional director of Landmark Apartment Trust, said in a statement. Another company statement praised Lacy for its efforts, adding that Landmark is “exploring other ways to support this very noble cause.”

Lacy Elementary assistant principal JeLynn Crane started the bookmobile project six years ago. It gives students a chance to read in a group and to borrow books for a week at a time.

Mayra Tifre, who has lived in Grand Arbor Reserve for about seven years and has a rising second-grader at Lacy, said she has seen her daughter’s reading skills improve with the bookmobile. She wants the weekly visits to continue.

“It’s very important because the children don’t have anywhere else to read,” Tifre said.

Many families who speak Spanish and other foreign languages live at Grand Arbor Reserve, said Debbie Derbyshire, a retired teacher assistant from Lacy. Several families are refugees, she said, adding that banning the bookmobile is bad for the community, she said.

“It just really didn’t seem like an appropriate response to me,” Derbyshire said. “(The bookmobile) gives these children something to look forward to and gives them an outlet which is healthy and educational.”

The bookmobile has limited opportunities to reach Grand Arbor Reserve residents if teachers can’t go onto the property, Lacy principal Candace Watson said. Some sites are nearby, but they would require students to cross Lake Boone Trail, a major road that leads to Interstate 440.

“As far as other options,” Watson said, “there really aren’t any.”

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Information from: The News & Observer, https://www.newsobserver.com

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