The Fort Bend ISD board voted 5-2 to postpone any potential policy revisions to district library policy until after board workshops on the topic allow members to gather input from district librarians and other administration professionals.

Trustee David Hamilton pushed for a vote to convene an emergency policy committee meeting April 16 to discuss changes to the library policy regarding objectionable books being left on library shelves while under review by the district librarians.

However, Trustee Angie Hanan received the support of four other board members and amended the proposal to postpone the decision until a board policy committee could convene after gathering enough feedback and ultimately bring the issue back to the board for a vote sometime this summer.

How it happened

Public comment prior to discussion on the proposed policy change was overwhelmingly in favor of the district’s librarians and opposed censorship by one person or small group as a matter of constitutional protection.

Hanan said she was offended by the reading aloud from materials cited as examples of books that should be removed during the previous board meeting on March 25. She said the process felt rushed by board members who wanted to remove materials immediately upon being identified for review.

Those in favor

FBISD issued a statement by email April 9 that agreed with the board’s decision to wait until they gathered feedback to address library policy issues this summer.

“This issue is without a doubt, a matter of utmost importance. On the one hand, the district has a duty to ensure our students are not exposed to harmful or inappropriate content in respect to topics that are best left for parental guidance. On the other hand, removal of library materials involves First Amendment considerations and even the U.S. Supreme Court has struggled with the issue,” the statement read.

Those opposed

Trustees Hamilton and Sonya Jones opposed the delay in changing the district's policies. Both cited materials currently in school libraries they deemed too vulgar and inappropriate for district students of any grade level.

Hamilton had also advocated for the possibility of a policy change that would make Superintendent Marc Smith or other administration officials decide what library content was to be removed, rather than the librarians on staff.

Hamilton and Jones urged instead the board meet in a workshop on the topic before the next board meeting on April 22. However, the majority vote against meeting in committee on the topic in April means the board will not do so until after the school year ends.

What else?

House Bill 900 requires school districts review the material in their libraries beginning Jan. 1, 2025, to determine if materials should remain in the collection, according to the Texas Library Association.

What’s next?

The board's first summer board meeting is scheduled for June 3.