The Conroe ISD board of trustees discussed its policy for reviewing books challenged by parents in its school libraries during a May 17 regular meeting.
CISD Deputy Superintendent Chris Hines discussed a policy recommendation wherein books being reconsidered during a formal process would only be available with parental consent. Hines said policy change takes two months. The policy change proposal will be brought back at a June board meeting for consideration, and the board may vote to change it in July.
Trustee Datren Williams said he opposed the policy change recommendation because he believed there was room in the current policy for interpretation.
Under the current policy, the formal reconsideration process begins when a written request is submitted to review whether material is appropriate to have in the library. Williams said without clear parameters for parents to flag books as inappropriate, it could lead to a "slippery slope” of excessive numbers of library books being pulled.
“My challenge is essentially this: ... What if a parent decides that all of these [hypothetical] books ... need to go through reconsideration?” Williams said. “And another parent decides we got a whole other list that needs to go through reconsideration. During this process, I got a half-empty library.”
Trustee Dale Inman discussed how the policy recommendation for the reconsideration process is supposed to be narrowly tailored to the Texas Penal Code. Specifically, it must be in relation to the obscenity laws within the penal code, he said. Therefore, not all books would be eligible for the formal reconsideration process, but only ones that have harmful material whose dominant theme is “patently offensive to the prevailing standards of the adult community,” he said.
Williams and Inman agreed a partial rewriting of the policy recommendation would be more acceptable wherein only a book that is challenged on the basis of the Texas Penal Code would be evaluated.
Board Vice President Scott Moore gave two recommendations. First, he suggested one of the seven members of the board of trustees could participate in the book reviews rather than receiving a report. The second recommendation was to evaluate the avenues through which these materials were reaching the students. Hines stated complaints from parents have been in regard to the library materials as well as the classroom materials.
Before adjournment, Inman said the board’s goals are to narrow the selection criteria policy recommendation to the Texas Penal Code and to evaluate how these books are landing on the shelves in the first place. The board will consider recommendations for changes to its policies at its next meeting, June 21.