Park County school district approves new set of school book policies
May 25, 2023
POWELL - After several months of collaboration, including the forming of a special committee, the Park County School District 1 school board unanimously passed the new book selection and adoption policy May 9, which details the steps for reconsideration of library books and the material reconsideration form.
The policies began revision through the use of a special committee this winter that consisted of district administrators, teachers, parents and community members.
The policy was first seen by the board in February and passed during the last board meeting after a third and final reading. Three readings is the most given to a policy - if it had not passed, it would have been sent back to committee.
While both the adoption and reconsideration policies were streamlined and edited for clarification during the revision process, the most notable change to the reconsideration policy from its initial draft is a change to the intended use of the 1-5 rating scale.
The scale was originally to be applied to each library book when it's purchased in order to give age guidelines based on content. Due to the amount of time this would require from library staff the committee determined the scale will instead be used as a subjective measure if a book is pulled for reconsideration.
"Obviously, as you know, there's just been a tremendous amount of work done by a lot of people," Superintendent Jay Curtis said.
The reconsideration policy requires removal requests be sent to the building principal where the material resides. Then the complainant, principal and library media specialist or teacher will meet to discuss the material. A report of the meeting will then go to the superintendent and the principal may choose to restrict the material for the complainant's student or restrict access for all students. The materials can also be transferred one school up if the book is in an elementary or middle school.
Primary parents and guardians will also be sent an email each week that informs them what books their students have checked out unless they opt out; upon request they can be provided with their students' library history and a list of books in the child's classroom library.
The Cody school district added a similar book checkout email feature after revising its library book policy in 2018.
If the request is not resolved following the meeting with the building principal, the complainant can complete the Citizen's Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials.
Books that are undergoing reconsideration will remain available for general use until a decision is made, unless the superintendent deems that "the material appears to be harmful for the given age and/or grade level of the children in that school."
The committee will consist of one principal or their designee, one library media specialist, two other PCSD1 staff members chosen by the superintendent, the complainant and two other members of the community selected by the superintendent.
Votes, which the policy originally declared would be done anonymously by ballot, will be done in public by a voice vote at the recommendation of the district's legal counsel.
Under the final selection and adoption policy, a list of criteria will serve as a selection guide with no particular order of priority. The criteria includes considerations such as supporting standards, user appeal, maturity, favorable reviews from "authoritative sources," diversity of viewpoints, and representation from religious, ethnic and cultural authors among others.
The full list of criteria can be found on pages one and two of the policy.
In addition to the criteria, the library media teachers will use input from stakeholders in accordance with the district's mission and values. This will also apply to classroom libraries.
"The responsibility for the selection of library materials is delegated to the professionally trained Library Media Teachers employed by the district. The selector will review multiple review sources before purchasing material," the policy reads. "The PSCD1 School Board has the final decision regarding all matters related to the operation of the school libraries."
Under the policy, the library media teacher will use the criteria along with input from district stakeholders to select material.
The policy stipulates that "all material should be judged on the whole of the work rather than individual parts, and merits rather than deficiencies."
It also clarifies that recommendations from staff, students, parents and other community members will be given consideration and that parents may restrict access to library materials for their own children.
After a districtwide book reconsideration if the book is restricted rather than removed, parental consent must be given for the student to check out the book.
All policy materials can be viewed in their entirety at pcsd1.org/District-Policies.
This story was published on May 23, 2023.