Conroe ISD board halts voting on removing ‘sexually explicit’ books in district libraries until November

CONROE, Texas – Conroe ISD isn’t changing its book review policy.

Board members agreed to have the superintendent and school administrators tweak the proposed policy and return to the board in November.

Trustee Tiffany Bauman Nelson introduced the proposal to implement a similar policy as Katy ISD with district-tailored needs.

Two motions to delay the proposal, made by Trustee Datren Williams, failed. The motions, one to table the matter and the other to not make any changes.

Williams was the most vocally against the measure.

“I’m deeply concerned because it seems the board is once again overstepping its bounds. I think what we’re having here is some subtle political debates, which I necessarily don’t want to be entertained by,” said Williams.

He asked district administrators why they didn’t look to other districts for guidance.

“Katy, I think is a great example for us because it’s similar in size,” Nelson said.

In September, Katy Independent School District was one of the first Texas districts to remove more than 19 books from its schools. Members voted to unanimously update and adjust the district’s current book removal policy after several children’s classics, including Dr. Seuss’ “Wacky Wednesday” and “No, David!” by David Shannon were put on the district’s removal list because of nudity.

At one point, Williams had a school staffer calculate the number of emails the board received on book policy compared to the number of students and parents in the district.

“You’re looking at .007,” the staffer is heard saying during the board meeting.

“So, not one percent? Coincidentally, that’s probably the likelihood of probability of you finding an inappropriate book of the millions of books we have in our libraries,” Williams said.

Nelson responded by bringing up her recent election vote total.

“If we’re talking about numbers, I would love to talk about the number of voters we had,” Nelson said. “I believe I had 43,000 voters vote for me in a group of six.”

Conroe ISD reportedly has a policy for removing books, but not for removing “sexually explicit” books.

“Here’s what I don’t understand. We’re seeing Tom Sawyer removed from schools. We’re seeing To Killing a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, and Dr. Seuss; they’re literally banning classic literature. And yet, we as grandparents, parents and community leaders have to fight for just saying sexually explicit books don’t belong in the hands of our schoolchildren,” said State Rep. Steve Toth, who spoke with KPRC 2 ahead of the board meeting Tuesday.

When asked about Katy ISD removing Dr. Seuss’ Book, Toth said he thinks the individuals who removed that book were politicizing it to make a statement.

“This is not a Republican issue. This is not a Democrat issue. This is not a conservative or liberal issue. This is an issue of simply saying I’m going to respect your rights as a parent to instill the values you want in your child,” he said. “I’m hearing from both Democrats and Republicans in support of Katy’s policy.”

Toth said he has already received calls to his office regarding Conroe ISD book removal policy and a petition has been started, which has nearly 200 signatures.

According to the district, if a complainant wishes to make a formal challenge, the administrator shall provide the complainant with a copy of this policy and a form to request a formal reconsideration of the library material.

Who may challenge library resources? The district stated that a parent of a district student, a student who is 18 years of age or older, an individual employee, or any District resident may challenge a library material maintained in the district’s library program on the basis that the library material fails to meet the standards set forth in this policy.

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