TULSA, Okla. — Leaders at Bristow Public Schools took steps to address library and classroom books some parents consider inappropriate.
They said they evaluated them and have decided to remove some, but not all.
The books some parents said included sexually explicit content have been out of circulation for the past two months while a committee reviewed them initially, but starting today some will be returning to the shelves.
“We wanted to ensure that books that had been submitted or were in question, were appropriate and acceptable for age, and grade appropriateness is what we’re looking for," Krista Burden, assistant superintendent and director of instruction said.
Since November, nearly fifty books have been removed from the shelves at Bristow schools. The district has been conducting internal reviews on 47 books some parents say are inappropriate for students. Kaycee Batschelett has four kids who attend Bristow Schools. She is among several parents worried about explicit material in the books.
“Some books have lots and lots of cuss words in it, there’s explicit rape scenes, there’s explicit sex scenes," Batschelett said.
Library Media Specialist, Allison Hilburn, said public libraries are designed to give students access to intellectual freedom.
“My job is to be a neutral provider of information," Hilburn said.
Hilburn said she read more than half of the books on the list. She is on the committee that conducted the internal review. The criteria involved reviewing the overall purpose of the material as well as the quality of writing and illustrations. Hilburn said the eight books that were removed didn't meet the district's selection criteria.
“All of the literacy materials that we are providing within our schools are age grade-appropriate literacy, there are varying opinions from parents as to what is appropriate for their child and that’s why library media centers are about access and parents making that choice and being involved in the process of what their child is going to read,” Burden said.
Bristow schools also want to let parents decide what books their child can access. They can choose for their child to not use the library, not use the classroom libraries, and for high school parents not have access to age sixteen and over content, but Batschelett said opting out is not fair for her kids.
“It’s still not fair to my child because since I don’t want my child to have access to the explicit things, I have to opt them out of every single book available, that’s the only option,” Batschelett said.
Burden said the opting-out option will not limit students from using the media center for other purposes like access to the internet or completing assignments. She also said parents will now have access to a list of books in classroom libraries.
Of the 47 books, nine were not found in any Bristow Public Schools and eight were removed from circulation.
Bristow’s superintendent posted a letter on the district's Facebook page explaining the decisions they made and included which books will stay and which will go. You can find that letter and the criteria the school is using to determine if a book is appropriate here.
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