Nampa admins want a new book deletion policy

Schools in Nampa may have a new process to remove books from libraries by the end of the summer.

The Nampa School District Board of Trustees asked Acting Superintendent Greg Russell to develop a district process for removing books from schools during a special business session Monday night. Administrators would like to approve a new policy by the start of the 2022-23 school year.

Trustees spent more than an hour Monday night discussing their controversial May 9 decision to remove 22 ‘disputed books’ from district libraries, which some council members said was the result of an unclear process .

School board chairman Jeff Kirkman said he voted to remove the books in part because the district’s book removal process “was all over the place.”

Russell said there is no specific written policy for removing books in the district and the current process is loosely modeled after the program’s selection process.

Trustee Marco Valle, who also voted to scrap the books, said the controversial decision – which he said sparked a nationwide backlash – was needed to develop better policy.

“Sometimes a shock to the system is needed to make changes in the right direction,” Valle said.

Council vice-chairman Tracey Pearson said parents had been complaining about the nearly two dozen books for more than a year and the council needed to act.

The big questions from the night’s council revolved around whether certain titles should be kept in schools and whether parents could prevent their children from reading content they deemed inappropriate.

District librarians said until the vote on May 9, they were in the process of answering those questions with a book review committee.

Ann Christensen, Skyview High School’s library assistant, met with parents and staff for months, where they read the disputed books and shared their opinions.

“A lot of time was spent reading these books, analyzing them, to see if they were appropriate,” Christensen said. “You voted and stopped our process…it felt like we wasted our time.”

Nampa High librarian Nancy Finney said she has read most of the now deleted books. The librarian admitted she was “shocked” by some of the content in the “Looking For Alaska” book, but said she loved the book the moment she finished it.

“Books are like a puzzle,” she said. “If you pull out a piece and watch it, it might sound really offensive, but when you put all those pieces together, you get the whole thing and you find out what it all means.”

At the heart of the debate is how parents can have a say in what books their children read. As part of their working session, the board floated a number of ideas, including:

  • Appoint a district committee made up of parents, teachers, librarians and other interested parties.
  • Create a nominating process to remove contested books, where the nominating party would be required to read the book in question and submit a report.
  • Develop criteria by which a book would be approved or denied based on content.
  • Make the inventory of each school library available to parents.
  • Allow parents to decide whether their child can refuse to read certain books.
  • Create a system that would alert a parent every time a student pulls a book out of the library.

Nampa Board Clerk Krissy LaMont said the board will hold another business session later this summer to review the administration’s progress on the new book review process.

These 22 books were removed from Nampa libraries in May, according to the Idaho Press:

  • “The Kite Runner”, by Khaled Hosseini
  • “Leah on the Offbeat” by Becky Albertalli
  • “The Prince and the Seamstress”, by Jen Wang
  • “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher
  • Bus 57 by Dashka Slater
  • “Drama” by Raina Telgemeier
  • “In Search of Alaska”, by John Green
  • “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  • “l8r, g8r,” by Lauren Myracle
  • “Out of Darkness”, by Ashley Hope Perez
  • “The Benefits of Being a Wallflower”, by Stephen Chbosky
  • “Crank”, by Ellen Hopkins
  • “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian;” by Sherman Alexie
  • “City of Celestial Fire”, by Cassandra Clare
  • “Mechanical Princess”, by Cassanrda Clare
  • “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell
  • “Extremely strong and incredibly close”, by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • “Sold”, by Patricia McCormick
  • “Speak Up”, by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • “33 Snowfish”, by Adam Rapp
  • “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health”, by Robie H. Harris

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Colin L. Johnson