Over the last year, many parents have raised concerns at school board meetings about the content in some books in CISD libraries that they say violate a Texas law pertaining to distribution of harmful material to a minor.
Carolyn Nini, a CISD parent, spoke on the topic at the meeting.
“The moral upbringing of our children is the responsibility of the parents, not the government nor the school system,” Nini said. “I stand before you no longer requesting that the books be removed but demanding that all sexually deviant books and teaching materials immediately be removed from all CISD schools.”
Amber Sullivan, a CISD librarian, said board meetings over the last year have been an “open attack on librarians.”
“Librarians believe wholeheartedly in two CISD truths: We read for a better life, and all means all,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said she works with over 3,400 students every day and has seen the positive effect books can have on helping students cope with difficulties.
“You need to give our high school students a little more credit. They live in this world too,” she said. “They deal every single year with having to mourn classmates that die in car accidents, from drug use and from suicide, but you want to remove books that help them process these things because you deem them too obscene?”
At the meeting, the board split their previous instructional resources policy into two separate policies—one for instructional materials and one for library materials—allowing for separate processes for the review of library materials and classroom instructional materials.
The formal review process for library materials begins with a written request. Students still have access to the book while it is under review unless the book is under review for violation of the district’s policy of “protection from inappropriate materials.” In that case, the book would only be made available to students with written parental permission.
Upon receipt of a request, the district library specialist will appoint a review committee made up of one librarian and at least one teacher who is familiar with the material’s content, according to the district. When a decision is made, the book will either return to the library shelves or be removed.
Parents are unable to restrict what other students check out, but they may request that a book be withheld from their own children, and the student will not be allowed to check out that book, according to district officials.
“Trust your librarians. We are experts in books; we are experts in our students,” Sullivan said. “And trust our students. They know what they can handle and what they cannot. If it only reaches one of our 64,000 students, then it belongs because they belong.”