Fort Bend ISD proposal would've given the superintendent the power to pull books from libraries

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
FBISD proposal would've given superintendent the power to remove books
A Fort Bend ISD board meeting had people torn over a proposal that would've given the superintendent the power to remove books from libraries.

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- The debate over what can be found on Fort Bend ISD library shelves is expected to linger into the summer.

The discussion over library books has spilled into recent Fort Bend ISD board meetings. At the March 25 meeting, several speakers addressed the board about vulgar material found in middle school and high school libraries.

"If you keep it in here, you're complicit in the sexualization of children," one speaker said. "It's got to stop."

A discussion that hit board president Judy Dae hard because she knows about literacy restrictions after growing up in China.

"I didn't have access to almost no books," Dae recalled.

Now, Dae's faced with another book-banning debate. Two weeks ago, she listened from the board president seat as numerous speakers read text that included profanity, racist, and sexual material found in school libraries.

Two weeks later, they're still available. An issue other school board members addressed during Monday's meeting.

"If I were to ask you right now, 'Can you remove the books? Can we remove them?' We can't," school board member Rick Garcia said. "To me, that's a problem."

Right now, if a book is challenged, it remains in the library while a committee reads it. That can take weeks.

A proposal from Monday would give the superintendent the power to pull books. Dae doesn't think Dr. Marc Smith should be tasked with reading each challenged book.

"If we have people challenge 20 books, it's going to be really hard for him to make that decision," Dae explained.

The board decided to have a committee review the policy and bring it back this summer. An issue board member, David Hamilton, said it had been made worse by librarians who added banned books.

During the meeting two weeks ago, some speakers targeted librarians.

"I think we should fire all of these librarians," one speaker said.

While the policy is under review, Dae said librarians aren't going anywhere.

"I don't believe that's happening in Fort Bend ISD," Dae said. "We have never had any of those discussions."

Dae won't be a part of many more discussions. She's leaving the board next month.

Although she faced book restrictions in China, she says there should be a balance.

"It's not a book-banning sort of speak," Dae said. "Maybe there should be some control like maybe certain books should be in certain sections."

Fort Bend ISD sent ABC13 the following statement:

This issue is without a doubt, a matter of utmost importance. On the one hand, the district has a duty to ensure our students are not exposed to harmful or inappropriate content in respect to topics that are best left for parental guidance. On the other hand, removal of library materials involves First Amendment considerations and even the U.S. Supreme Court has struggled with the issue. It is important that the district thoroughly consider this matter. In that vein, the FBISD Board took action Monday night to allow a workshop to be scheduled so that information and guidance may then be provided to the district's policy committee. After those steps, the board can vote on the policy this summer.

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