Constituents interested in learning the fate of nearly 200 books pulled from Tyler Independent School District libraries may direct their search to the “mystery” section.
A district spokesperson declined to answer questions about the review and indicated a final report may not be forthcoming.
“The District [sic] continues to have titles under some level of review and will continue to do so as allowed by current policy,” district spokesperson Jennifer Hines wrote in a Sept. 12 emailed response. “The District [sic] will not comment further on the issue.”
In March, Superintendent Marty Crawford said the books would be reviewed over the summer so that a final determination could be made “by the beginning of this next school year.”
Hines, however, said “there is no timeline for completion of such review.”
Efforts to reach Crawford for an interview were unsuccessful.
At issue is whether the selected books contain pervasive vulgarity or if they are educationally suitable for students.
The books pulled for review at TISD are on a list of more than 850 released by state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Ft. Worth and sent to “selected superintendents.”
Krause questioned the appropriateness of books containing, among other subjects, sexually explicit images, graphic presentation of sexual behavior that is in violation of the law or contain materials that might make students “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress.”
Although Crawford previously said he did not receive that letter, he decided to take a proactive approach to the issue. In a previous interview, the superintendent said certain district employees would be assigned to review the books on the list.
He said school policy and state law give school administrators “significant discretion” to determine the content of the school libraries as long as they are consistent with the First Amendment.
According to school policy: “A district shall not remove materials from a library for the purpose of denying students access to ideas with which the district disagrees. A district may remove materials because they are pervasively vulgar or based solely upon the educational suitability of the books in question.”
Vocal critics and supporters about specific books sparked heated debates over personal freedom, community standards and even censorship during the past year, with school board trustees and administrators taking the brunt of the ire.
Hines said the district stands by its previous statement about making decisions “that, as they do with their own children, the Board and Administration believes certain topics have no place in our schools and are fortunate to have parents to work with their child on sensitive topics away from school.”
Vanessa E. Curry is a journalist with nearly 35 years of experience as a writer, editor and instructor. She earned a B.S. degree in Mass Communication from Illinois State University and a MSIS degree from The University of Texas at Tyler with emphasis on journalism, political science and criminal justice. She has worked newspaper in Marlin, Henderson, Tyler and Jacksonville, Texas as well as in Columbia Tennessee. Vanessa also was a journalism instructor at the UT-Tyler and Tennessee Tech University. Her writing has been recognized by the State Bar of Texas, Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, Dallas Press Club, and Tennessee Press Association. She currently is working on publishing two books: “Lies and Consequences: The Trials of Kerry Max Cook,” and “A Gold Medal Man, A biography of Kenneth L. “Tug” Wilson.
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