A district possesses significant discretion to determine the content of its school libraries. A district must, however, exercise its discretion in a manner consistent with the First Amendment, as per Board policy EF(Legal).
Removal of Library Materials
Students' First Amendment rights are implicated by the removal of books from the shelves of a school library. A district shall not remove materials from a library for the purpose of denying students access to ideas with which the district disagrees. A district may remove materials because they are pervasively vulgar or based solely upon the educational suitability of the books in question.
Definition of Pervasively Vulgar
"Pervasively vulgar" content is defined as lewd or profane and existing in or spread throughout. Merriam-Webster defines pervasive as: existing in or spreading through every part of something. Merriam-Webster defines vulgar as: offensive in language or lewdly or profanely indecent.
Your Role as a Parent
You may provide your child's principal or librarian with a list of titles you do not want your child to have access to for check out. If you believe a resource is inappropriate, not only for your child, but for all children in the district or in a particular grade range, you may pursue a formal reconsideration. See the Resource Reconsideration section below for information on the process requesting a resource reconsideration.
A process exists to provide district parents, staff members, or District residents with an opportunity to request reconsideration of resources used in the District's educational program on the basis of appropriateness. Detailed information about this process may be found within Board policy EF(LOCAL). If a parent, staff member or community member wishes to request reconsideration of an instructional resource available to students, there are two processes available: Informal Reconsideration and Formal Consideration.
The school receiving a complaint about the appropriateness of an instructional resource shall try to resolve the matter informally using the following procedure:
1. The principal or designee shall explain the school's selection process, the criteria for selection, and the qualifications of the professional staff who selected the questioned resource.
2. The principal or designee shall explain the intended educational purpose of the resource and any additional information regarding its use.
3. If appropriate, the principal or designee may offer a concerned parent an alternative instructional resource to be used by that parent's child in place of the challenged resource.
4. If the complainant wishes to make a formal challenge, the principal or designee shall provide the complainant a copy of this policy and a form to request a formal reconsideration of the resource.
A complainant shall make any formal objection to an instructional resource on the form provided by the District and shall submit the completed and signed form to the principal. Upon receipt of the form, the principal(s) shall appoint a reconsideration committee consisting of members from the appropriate school level. In the event a reconsideration committee must review material, only one elementary and one secondary committee shall be created.
The reconsideration committee shall include at least one member of the instructional staff who has experience using the challenged resource with students or is familiar with the challenged resource's content. Other members of the committee may include District-level staff, library staff, secondary-level students, parents, and any other appropriate individuals.
All members of the committee shall review the challenged resource in its entirety. As soon as reasonably possible, the committee shall meet and determine whether the challenged resource conforms to the principles of selection set out in this policy. The committee shall prepare a written report of its findings and provide copies to the principal, the Superintendent or designee, and the complainant.
Request for Reconsideration Form
If you have a concern about an instructional material and would like to make a formal reconsideration, please complete the Request for Reconsideration Form.
1. A complainant may raise an objection to an instructional resource used in a school's educational program, despite the fact that the professional staff selecting the resource were qualified to make the selection, followed the proper procedure, and adhered to the objectives and criteria for instructional resources set out in this policy.
2. A parent's ability to exercise control over reading, listening, or viewing matter extends only to his or her own child. A parent who has an objection to an instructional resource may request their child not have access to an instructional resource contained in the school library.
3. Upon receipt of the district form formally challenging an instructional resource, the principal of the school shall conduct an expedited review of the appropriateness of the material, which must be completed within 5 school days. After the expedited review, the material in question will be made available to all members of the Reconsideration Committee, which must complete a review of the materials within 30 calendar days.
The major criterion for the final decision on challenged resources is the appropriateness of the resource for its intended educational use. No challenged resource shall be removed solely because of the ideas expressed herein. The District may remove materials because they are factually inaccurate, pervasively vulgar, not educationally suitable, or inappropriate in light of the age, maturity, and impressionability of the student audience.
Instructional Resource Reconsideration Committees
FISD has two committees: Secondary Instructional Resource Reconsideration Committee and the Elementary Instructional Resource Reconsideration Committee.