DALLAS—A day before students return to class, officials from the Keller Independent School District instructed campuses to pull any book that was challenged last year from library shelves.
This includes those that were flagged but later approved by a committee to remain in libraries and classrooms.
Among the titles recently challenged by parents and community members: Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” “Anne Frank’s Diary (The Graphic Adaptation)” and the Bible.
Jennifer Price, the district’s curriculum director, emailed principals a set of instructions Tuesday morning, along with a spreadsheet of every challenged title.
“By the end of today, I need all books pulled from the library and classrooms,” she wrote. “More information will be sent regarding action for these books. … Once this has been completed, please email me a confirmation. We need to ensure this action is taken by the end of today.”
District spokesman Bryce Nieman said Keller school trustees recently approved a new policy that requires every book that was previously challenged to be reconsidered.
He said he is unsure of the timeline for when the re-review process will be completed.
The Texas Education Agency opened an investigation into Keller ISD last year because of concerns that it had sexually explicit books available to children.
The district was flooded with complaints about inappropriate books, part of a national fight that’s been egged-on by conservative Republican leaders targeting titles about race, gender and sexuality.
So for months, Keller parents, community members and staff met behind closed doors to review the challenged books and determine whether they should remain in classrooms or libraries. The debate is so heated members of the district’s Book Challenge Committees were asked to sign confidentiality agreements.
Keller officials argued that the district kept its book challenge committee deliberations secret in part because of fear of retribution from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office.
The district maintains an evolving web page that lists every book challenged by parents or community members — along with the results of each committee’s deliberation. At this point, those decisions appear moot.
The committee decided “The Bluest Eye” and the Bible would remain in their current locations.
Many of the books that were challenged center on gay or transgender characters.
Those include “I Am Jazz” (the majority of the committee voted to leave the book in a campus library) and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” (the committee agreed the book should remain in high schools).
Several of the books challenged in Keller appeared on a list circulated by Rep. Matt Krause last year.
The Fort Worth Republican sent superintendents a letter listing more than 800 titles asking officials to identify whether those books were in schools, where they were located and how much money was spent on them.
His request added fuel to the fight over books in Texas, which has continued to escalate.
Keller school district is in Tarrant County outside of Fort Worth. It was among North Texas districts where conservative PACS poured big money into local school board May elections.
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