Recently, we provided information to families about library books and technology in our schools. Like many public schools, Eanes ISD is now part of a national conversation about the content and age-appropriateness of certain books in campus libraries.
Since March, we have received more than 60 challenges for books currently in our libraries, mainly in middle schools and the high school. Our staff has put in countless hours to process, study and assign the books to challenge committees. Three challenge committees have been formed to thoroughly read the challenged books by level (elementary, middle and high school). Decisions on the first three books challenged this school year should come in the next week or so.
We make this point to show how the process works. If parents have concerns, they submit a formal challenge to a specific book, which is then reviewed by an appointed committee of educators and parents. Although previously infrequent, the process of reviewing books is not new; Eanes ISD has conducted other book challenges over the years following board policy and continues to do so. What is new, however, is implementation of a consistent process to manage and review the volume of book challenges underway and communicate the status of challenged books.
Although confident of our book challenge process based on current policy (EF), we are also considering model policies from other governmental entities. Recently, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) issued non-binding recommendations on how school districts should conduct book challenges. Before any policy changes are considered, however, our Board of Trustees is awaiting further direction from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). Once this guidance is provided, the Board will review, compare and determine if any policy changes related to instructional resources are feasible and necessary.
To provide transparency and clarity on the numerous book challenges we have received, an online database of all currently challenged books is available. This running record will be updated as we receive, process and assign books to district challenge committees. We will also continue to update the FAQs as needed.
If an Eanes ISD parent, staff member or resident believes a book is inappropriate for all students (not just their own child), they can formally challenge the book. See the process below.
- Complete the online challenge form. Please include as much detail as possible, as this is the information the challenge committee will follow.
- When received and processed, the challenge will be added to the district's challenge database.
- Books will be reviewed in the order received, one at a time, one per level.
- Once a book is assigned to a challenge committee, a copy is purchased for each committee member followed by a timeline for review. Note: due to the high volume of challenged books and the time it takes to thoroughly read and discuss each book, a challenge can take several weeks once the book is assigned to a committee. Challenge committees will not study books on holidays or during non-contractual months, such as during the summer.
- A book is reviewed at the lowest level first. For example, if a book is challenged at the middle school and high school level, the book will be reviewed at the middle school level first. The same applies to a book challenged at the elementary and middle school levels.
- Once the review is complete, the committee will issue its written decision based on Board Policy standards and the decision will be posted online in the challenge database.
- A decision may be appealed in accordance with policies DGBA, FNG or GF. Once a resource undergoes the formal challenge process, the resource will not be eligible for reconsideration for five years.
Eanes ISD values input from the community; this process is intended to partner with our community in a serious, thorough and impartial manner. Challenge committees will continue to progress through the list of books and decisions will be posted online. This time-consuming, policy-required process requires patience as staff, parents and administration work through each challenged book.