Katy ISD library coordinators provide student, parents, board with clarity on book selection process

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Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Katy ISD students and parents clash over book selection process
The battle of the books in Katy ISD continues as students and parents clashed about school library restrictions during a board meeting.

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- Books are still a hot topic at local school board meetings. The most controversial often feature content about sexual or racial minority groups. The back and forth brought out several speakers in Katy Independent School District on Monday night.

More than 30 people spoke during public comment at Monday night's Katy ISD school board meeting.

A majority of them shared their opinion on what types of books students should have access to.

"I am here to emphasize the importance of representation in the resources students have access to," Jessica Acevedo, Cinco Ranch High School senior, said.

"Certain material is harmful, and it just doesn't belong in the schools," Abby Ramsey, who homeschools her children, said.

Other parents who spoke said students should not be involved in the review process for book removal.

"It's time for Katy ISD to start prioritizing student needs, and the first step is to stop removing books that have yet to be formally reviewed by a committee with parents, teachers, and student representatives," another Cinco Ranch High School senior said.

The current review system allows parents to fill out a form if they believe a book is "pervasively vulgar."

Educators in Katy ISD then make a determination, typically within 30 business days.

Board member Rebecca Fox questioned the district's library program coordinators directly about the 10 titles removed since October 2021.

"How did some of the very pervasively vulgar books wind up in our libraries?" Fox said.

Sofia Darcy and Kari Heitman answered her question after their presentation and said, "There was still a different selection criteria prior to 2018. We also strengthened our selection criteria last year and added in the district level approval process. Librarians do work diligently to ensure the books being purchased do meet selection criteria."

The district's library program coordinators also explained the multi-step process for selection, which includes professional reviews, age appropriateness, and their professional expertise. They said every book is vetted individually, and collections are constantly reviewed.

Darcy and Heitman were able to provide clarity in lieu of solutions that would satisfy all concerned with student learning in the district.

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