After eight hours and three failed motions, at 1 a.m. on Jan. 18 the Conroe ISD board of trustees voted 4-3 to keep “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky in high school libraries but to remove it from classroom collections.

Additionally, Conroe ISD’s library policies may soon see changes that would allow for a board member to serve on the book reconsideration committee and switch the library system to an opt-in system instead of opt out.

As it stands, parents can select books that their children are not allowed to check out of the library in an online portal. Some trustees suggested they would like to see this changed to an opt-in policy that would require parental permission for children to check out certain books.

The instructional materials and library book policy are based on standards from the Texas Education Agency and allow for parents and students to request a committee to be appointed to determine whether a book may be allowed in district and classroom libraries.

According to the policy, the formal review process must begin with a written request. Once the district receives the request, the district library specialist appoints a committee composed of a librarian, at least one teacher who is familiar with the book’s content and five other community members.

When a decision is made, the policy states the book will either remain on shelves or be removed. Parents with concerns about materials may appeal the decision if they choose. If a hearing officer upholds the committee decision, a hearing will be conducted with the board of trustees.

Trustee Misty Odenweller, who was elected in November, submitted a request to CISD Superintendent Curtis Null asking to serve on all reconsideration committees for any library book brought forward to the district.

“We know there are books that are in our classrooms that are inappropriate and violate our standards—not only our community standards, but state law—and so therefore I'm saying if we don't have a board member if it just sits in, then how are we knowing that we're protecting our children and protecting each of us and this school district too?” Odenweller said.

Trustees Stacey Chase, Theresa Wagaman, Skeeter Hubert and Datren Williams spoke against allowing a board member to be on the committees.

“This reconsideration committee is an opportunity for the community to give their input,” Hubert said. “We as board members have the ultimate say, so if we are also on that committee, the community is not given the opportunity to give their unbiased input.”

Carrie Galatas, CISD’s general counsel, said the district has not found any other district where a board member also sits on book review committees.

The board also conducted a hearing for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” to decide the book’s fate in district and classroom libraries.

The parent who submitted the removal request, referred to throughout meeting documents as Ms. O., brought her appeal to the board of trustees after a hearing officer upheld the committee’s recommendation that the book remain in high school libraries and classroom collections but not be used as an instructional resource.

Attorney Jonathan Hullihan represented Ms. O.’s case that the book should be removed from all CISD libraries and classrooms.

“You have to make the decision of what you believe is right—whether it’s pervasively vulgar, whether it’s of little educational value,” Hullihan said.

Rick Morris, a Houston-area attorney representing the district in the case, said the book does not violate the Texas penal code.

“If it was as simple as [Ms. O.’s lawyer] made it sound, then two things would have already happened: One, people would have been arrested for circulating this book. Two, there would have been a single challenge somewhere in the entirety of the nation to prevent the book from being distributed to school children,” Morris said.

While the board upheld the committee’s decision that the book remain in high school libraries, it ruled the book should be pulled from classroom libraries. It also voted to amend the district’s opt-in/opt-out policy at a later date. Trustees Chase, Wagaman, Willliams and Melissa Dungan voted in favor of the motion. Trustees Hubert, Odenweller and Tiffany Baumann Nelson voted against it.

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct a misspelling.