The two policies, EFA and EFB, concern the process by which books for instructional use, such as for class reading assignments, and library books are both selected and challenged. Both policies were topics of discussion at the Oct. 20 and Sept. 15 meetings, when district staff and legal counsel provided an overview of the policies and changes recommended by both themselves and the Texas Association of School Boards.
Previous discussion of the policies centered around the district's existing informal process for reconsidering reading materials. RRISD Chief of Instruction Ryan Smith told the board of trustees that this existing method is most commonly used within the district when a parent or guardian finds a resource questionable.
"At that point, the librarian agrees a majority of the time, and then that book is removed," Smith said Oct. 20. "We haven't had any books that had to have a formal process on the library side, at least as far back as any of us that are here currently can remember. Those have all been resolved in an informal process."
The proposed policies, EFA Local and Regulation and EFB Local and Regulation, would see the informal challenge of reading materials, in which concerned parents or guardians can ask the materials to be removed by their campus librarian and principal, before moving on to the more formal challenge. Exhibits provided by district staff show the forms for challenges under each policy that require parents to have read or viewed the entire resource before challenging it.
"You can see that in making some suggestions of changes, our folks have been very, very thoughtful," RRISD General Counsel Cindy Hill said of the changes to policy EFB made by district staff. "Some of the concerns we had is maybe we don't want to just buy a book because it's recommended by our next-door neighbor. We rely on our our folks who have a lot of experience and training, rather than just because it's on a list."
Similarly, Smith elaborated on the existing policies for classroom instructional materials that would also be addressed by policy EFA and its staff-recommended adjustments.
"We continue to add some of the stronger elements and clarity to what we were already practicing in Round Rock ISD," Smith said. "Above and beyond the policy, our practice and our policy of sharing with parents reading lists and everything ahead of time, which books are going to be taught for particular secondary reading classes, and then having parents have the opportunity to choose a different book for their student. These aren't library books; these are books that are used for small group, for book clubs, things like that. We wanted to make sure that that was still part of our policy, even though [the Texas Association of School Boards] didn't have something like that."
At previous meetings, the policies' appearance on the board's agenda prompted both praise and concern from community members, who have spoken on multiple occasions regarding reading materials in RRISD.
Additional information regarding the proposed policies is available on the district's website.