Officials at North East Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, have undertaken an extensive review of their school library book collections based on a list of titles circulated by State Representative Matt Krause. The National Coalition Against Censorship is concerned about how that review is being conducted, and has also offered our assistance in helping the District to update its challenge regulations. NEISD is one of Texas’s largest school districts and the first to publicly respond to State Rep. Krause’s investigation into over 800 book titles.
Based on media reports and the district’s own statements, it appears that the District has repeatedly violated its own policies when conducting its review. For example, District policy explicitly states: “Access to a challenged resource shall not be restricted during the reconsideration process, except the District may deny access to a child if requested by the child’s parent.” Yet, the District has removed all of the books pending the outcome of the review.

We are also concerned about the possibility that some books have been moved from elementary libraries to middle school libraries, or from middle school libraries to high school libraries in contravention of District policy. The policy states that book reviews must be conducted by a reconsideration committee of several members, yet the District has stated that removal decisions have been made by individual librarians. The District’s policy also states that challenged materials must be reviewed in their entirety and that decisions must be based on all of the principles of selection set out in district policy, yet it appears that the District has removed books because of isolated “vulgar” or sexual elements.

Book challenges are often highly contentious and emotional, and the District’s regulations are well crafted to guarantee that all parties feel that they have been heard and respected, and that decisions are made based on objective criteria which focus on the educational needs of students. Thus, not only is it entirely improper for the District to ignore its own regulations, it is also poor policy.

NCAC has extensive experience assisting districts in developing policies which ensure that all stakeholders feel that their concerns have been heard and considered, and which also ensure that the public feels confident that decisions about instructional materials are made based on legitimate criteria, rather than political pressure or hostility to the viewpoint expressed in those materials. We have offered our assistance to NEISD in updating their District policies.


Read the full letter to the school district below. Click here for a full screen view: