“Attached are a list of books challenged last year,” reads the district’s email to staff. “By the end of today, I need all the books pulled from the library and classrooms. More information will be sent regarding actions for these books.”
Included in the list are “The Bible (All Versions)” and “Anne Frank’s Diary (A Graphic Adaptation).”
Members of the Keller ISD Board of Trustees asserted that the allegations of book banning are false.
They wrote that the temporary removal of these books is in accordance with new policies, adopted by the district to evaluate content available in school libraries, which call for the inclusion of materials with “literary or artistic value and merit” while protecting children from “pervasively vulgar, [or] obscene’ library books.”
This follows a summer of backlash from Keller ISD parents who wanted more oversight and input on the types of books available to students.
The books that received the most attention, the Bible and “The Diary of Anne Frank” graphic novel, are back on the shelves in Keller ISD libraries after they were reviewed and deemed acceptable for circulation.
However, headlines continue to circulate falsely claiming that these specific books have been removed.
Following the false allegations of permanent book banning propagated by media outlets last week, Keller ISD superintendent Dr. Rick Westfall released a statement on the matter.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
He confirmed that the temporary removal of the books follows the district’s newly adopted library book review and acquisition policies.
Responding to the attacks on school district staff, he said, “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.”
“If the books pass the new standards, as determined by reviews conducted in coordination with campus administration and librarians,” he explained, “the books will be promptly returned to shelves.”
Though the policies outlining the review process for challenged books have been finalized, the content guidelines dictating the rejection or approval of challenged books have not.
According to the proposed guidelines, texts that include “violence,” “horror,” “depictions of mental illness,” and “drug and alcohol abuse” will be tolerated at the high school level.
Books that include “detailed sex scenes” would be under the most stringent scrutiny and only allowed in “infrequent” amounts.
However, texts that include “sexually explicit conduct or descriptions of sexual abuse” or “Illustrations of nude intimate body parts” would not be allowed in any capacity.
The Keller ISD school board will vote on the matter at 5 p.m. on August 22.
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Hudson Callender is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. Hudson recently graduated cum laude from Trinity University with majors in Economics and Political Science, and loves to study ancient history. Hudson is also an avid mountaineer, backpacker, and paddler, often leading trips to remote wilderness areas. Outside of his love for nature, history, and Lone Star beer, Hudson spends his weekends arguing with his friends about football, and will always stick up for the Baylor Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and San Antonio Spurs.