KELLER, Texas (BP)—Reports of the Bible’s being removed alongside other books from school libraries don’t tell the full story, said a statement issued by the Keller Independent School District (ISD) Aug. 18.
“Books that have been challenged by community members as being inappropriate for schools are required to be removed from shelves and held in a Parental Consent Area until the challenge process is complete,” said superintendent Rick Westfall. “Previously challenged books are also being moved to a Parental Consent Area to determine if those books meet the new standards in the policy and the guidelines that will soon be considered by the Board.”
Materials placed in the Parental Consent Area are not completely off limits to students, said the Keller ISD in response to a list of questions by Baptist Press.
“The Parental Consent Area is a new concept that was established in these new policies, so the details regarding the exact location in each library are still being determined,” the district replied in an email. “Typically, it will just be an area in an office where titles are held that are being reviewed, so that students can only access them with written permission from a parent. Librarians and administrators would have access to the area.”
Last year, “any variation” of the Bible appeared on a list of books that garnered at least one complaint by a parent or community member. Other books included a graphic novel based on the diary of Anne Frank and several with LGBTQ themes and discussions over race.
The parent who challenged the appropriateness of the Bible withdrew that challenge in December, but two other parents issued another challenge in the spring.
The Bible was “quickly determined to be appropriate” the district told BP. However, as part of a recently-adopted policy, the district is required to reevaluate all books that had previously been challenged.
The controversy renewed last week when an email obtained by The Texas Tribune Aug. 16 showed the district’s director of curriculum and instruction instructing principals to remove the listed books from shelves and store them in a different location “by the end of today.”
Keller ISD issued a follow-up statement explaining policies approved at an Aug. 8 special meeting that “relate to the acquisition and review of instructional materials and library books.”
Campus librarians and other staff are being asked to assess books that were challenged over the last year. Those books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to the library “as soon as it is confirmed they comply with the new policy.”
A council made up of community leaders voted in February to leave several books – including the Bible – on shelves. But the addition of three new board members in the spring led to the review process’ beginning again, the Tribune reported.
A number of factors determine the review process’ length, the school district said.
“Some titles that are found to be very obviously appropriate will be returned after a quick review at the campus level,” it said. “If necessary, a review committee consisting of employees, parents and community members may need to be convened to determine the appropriateness of a title.”