- Belton ISD
Update from the Superintendent
I want to take a moment to communicate with you about circumstances we are navigating right now. As you may have heard, Belton ISD is striving to balance passionate and polarized opinions about library books.
During the most challenging times, there are often very few easy answers. The concern about library books is one of those topics. In this tough situation, our BISD staff and families need to know where I stand on the issue.
First, I believe parents should have a say and oversight into materials their children are reading and checking out in libraries. Throughout last spring, we worked to provide more parent partnerships about this very topic, which resulted in communication with parents through an email in July. The purpose of that email and these actions was to ensure parents had specific ways to become more involved in the library books their children are reading.
Second, we believe we should follow the law and governing policies. There are specific state and federal laws that apply to library books in the state of Texas. I believe those items should be our guide. Specifically, the permanent removal of books from library shelves without a strong process would be a legal mistake.
Finally, I want to have a sound process in place that allows for the legal removal of books from library shelves if needed. Multiple voices should be heard in the reconsideration process. Books that are challenged should be fairly and objectively reviewed. If material on the shelves is challenged as obscene, I want to be able to take that out of circulation while a proper review of the book can be addressed. In addition, if a library book is more appropriate for a different grade level, I want to have a system that can address that.
Our Board has been doing hard work on this topic in Board and committee meetings over the past year. They waited for the state to weigh in, received guidance this summer, and have been working to thoughtfully address the policy stance in alignment with the values of our community. I’m thankful for their leadership, and I know they want what is good and right for the students, families, and staff of Belton ISD.
Ultimately, through this letter I want you to know where I stand on this issue and what we are trying to accomplish. I’m not interested in banning books arbitrarily, nor am I interested in having obscene material in our libraries for students to access. I am interested in ensuring our actions and materials align with the values that make this community strong. Through thoughtful work, I believe we can have a good process that allows us to partner with parents, review material if needed, and address the material in the appropriate legal fashion.
As a parent, we respect that you are your child’s first and most important teacher. I thank you for your partnership.
Matt Smith, Ed.D.
Reminders for Parents:
New this year, you can log in to Destiny and view your child’s library history to see what books your child has checked out. You can also view the entire library catalog. For directions on how to access this information, click here.
If you have concerns about specific books available in the library, you are encouraged to speak with your child’s school librarian. The librarian can ensure your child cannot check out any book you have flagged.
If a formal request is made to remove access to a library book for all students, the process is moved to a committee of at least five members that includes a parent, teacher, principal and librarian. The committee will read and review the book and make a recommendation on whether to remove the book from circulation or keep it.
If you are interested in serving on a review committee, you can sign up using this form.
If you would like to learn more about this subject, please read this article.