Message from the Superintendent Regarding Book Reviews
Keller ISD has received many questions about news headlines and social media posts claiming that the District is banning books, including the Bible and the Diary of Anne Frank. Please see a message from Superintendent Dr. Rick Westfall below, providing clarification on these claims:
Keller ISD Families and Employees,
I wanted to reach out and address recent media coverage of an email that was sent to principals and librarians on Tuesday requesting that books be removed from classrooms and libraries. Most importantly, I want to assure you that Keller ISD is not banning the Bible or the Diary of Anne Frank, as has been suggested in some headlines and shared on social media, but I want to explain where this miscommunication came from.
Last week, Keller ISD’s Board of Trustees approved new policies EFA (Local) and EFB (Local) related to the acquisition and review of instructional materials and library books. Under the new EFB (Local), books that have been challenged by community members as being inappropriate for schools are required to be removed from shelves and held in a Parental Consent Area until the challenge process is complete. Previously challenged books are also being moved to a Parental Consent Area to determine if those books meet the new standards in the policy and the guidelines that will soon be considered by the Board.
I would like to remind everyone that the list of challenged books was not created by Keller ISD or any Keller ISD employee, but by parents and community members. We have, unfortunately, received reports of individual employees being attacked on social media, by phone, and through email because some have perceived these employees as having developed this list. Every Keller ISD employee works every day to ensure that students' educational needs are met, and these kinds of attacks on employees are unfair, uncalled for, and do nothing but distract from those efforts to serve our students. All of the books on the list were challenged by parents and community members for various reasons, and District officials considered these concerns through the previous review process. With a new policy and new guidelines in place, these titles will simply once again be reviewed through the lens of this new policy.
If the books pass the new standards, as determined by reviews conducted in coordination with campus administration and librarians, the books will be promptly returned to shelves. As these titles are reviewed, the status will be updated on our website at www.KellerISD.net/InstructionalResources. We anticipate that books like the Bible, Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, and other titles will be on shelves very soon. (Please note that more than 50 copies of the Diary of Anne Frank have remained in circulation; only the graphic novel edition was previously challenged, and is, thus, under review again.) It is important to be clear about this point – regardless of headlines or social media stories, none of the books under re-evaluation were banned.
The District is committed to following the established process and abiding by the new policy language adopted by the Board of Trustees. If additional challenge committees are needed to reconsider previously challenged materials, the District will follow the process set out in the newly adopted EFB (Local).
I know the vast majority of Keller ISD stakeholders are supportive of the work we do, and we appreciate that continued support as we all work together to provide exceptional educational opportunities for our students.
Dr. Rick Westfall