Student searching books

The Frisco ISD is changing the way parents can object to certain books in the district.

The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees approved the changing of two policies during its meeting on June 13.

Prior to the passage of the new policies last week, two patrons — Keith Brunson and Alison Darrell — spoke up about what the school is doing about "obscene" books and why they are still on the shelves in the Frisco ISD.

Daniel Stockton, Executive Director of Government and Legal Affairs, noted that even one page or a paragraph is enough to make a book be deemed inappropriate. The district will look at the definition of "obscene" from the Texas Penal Code instead of the actual context of a book and Stockton added that one sentence might be enough for a book to leave the shelves at FISD.

The library materials will not include “harmful material” or “obscene” material as defined by Texas Penal Code. Frisco ISD's administrative guidelines relating to the selection of library materials are in the process of being updated. The district is working within the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's recommendations as it has worked through the process of creating and updating its guidelines. 

The district will remove Kirkus, the reviewer that had positively reviewed almost all of the books the district has removed from circulation. The librarians will also have more individualized reviews on books that do not have reliable, professional reviews and can be considered borderline – such as anime.

Stockton said that obscene isn’t protected by the First Amendment, however once a book is in a school it makes it tougher to pull from the shelves. The district can’t just pull a book once it is challenged.

It will have to go through a review channel, as before, but a formal objection needs to be filed within 15 calendar days of the first complaint. The district will provide a decision in writing to the complainant within 30 days of the objection.

However, Stockton said that the timeframe is too long of a process. The district allows access to the public catalog and now the public can pinpoint certain phrases or portions of a book that is considered "obscene" or to have "harmful material" that a patron questions.

The district will then quickly be able to determine if it falls under the above categories. It speeds up the process and a librarian will not have to read a full book, for context, to see if it should still be on the shelves.

There have been 13 complaints about books but only eight of them turned into formal requests. A committee of between eight to 10 people – a mix of fellow librarians from schools in the district, staff members and community members – then review the book(s) in question.

Amanda Butler, Director of Library and Media Services, noted only seven books have been taken out of circulation out the nearly 1 million books within the FISD.

All but one of the removed books have been at high school libraries – the exception is "Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard" by Alex Bertie, removed in February from the middle school level.

Other books removed from high libraries were: "Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)" by Lev Rosen, "Triangles" by Ellen Hopkin, "Milk and Honey" by Rupi Kaur, "Blue is the Warmest Color" by Jul Maroh, "What Girls are Made of" by Alana Arnold, "Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings and YOU" by Cory Silverberg – all taken out between March and May.

“I can assure you with every fiber of my being there is not a librarian or staff member that wants to give your students, children obscene content,” Butler said. “I can promise you that.”

Rep. Jared Patterson (R), who represents the 106th district, has been critical of the district in regards to books through social media channels. Darrell, in her comments, referenced a list of 850 books that Patterson brought up that needs to be out of schools.

Stockton noted though the district can’t just go off a list from a politician without knowing why those books are on his list to begin with. One of the seven books pulled from the district came from Patterson's report to the district staff.

In April, the board approved the addition of four new positions and those positions will be involved with the purchase of new library books and looking through the current collection to see if they pass certain criteria and are age appropriate. Those four new employees start on July 11.

PTA’s highlights, honors

The district honored the Frisco ISD Council of PTA’s as the partner of education for the month of June.

Terri Miller, president of the FISD Council of PTA’s, presented the board with the annual update on the organization.

Frisco ISD has 22,905 members, second most in the state and an increase of 4,566 from 2021. There were 33 schools that had 100 percent enrollment from the staff and 58 schools saw an increase in overall members.

Cobb Middle School and Robertson Elementary achieved "platinum voice" — the highest ranking possible — where PTA membership is equaling/and or exceeding the number of students on that campus.

There were 15 advocate members involved in every PTA in the district, while one person is involved in 30 PTAs and seven in 15 different PTAs. Lifetime honoree members were given to 94 honorees in May.

There are currently 68 PTAs but next year with the addition of Buddy and Joni Minett Elementary and Panther Creek High School the number will grow.

Laura Baker, from Staley Middle School math teacher, is named the 2022 Texas PTA Secondary Teacher of the Year. She will be honored in July.

Local PTAs and Council awarded more than 110 scholarships through the Frisco Education Foundation and a clothes closet – called Frisco Threads – for economically disadvantaged students opened in August 2021. A total of 258 families – 843 shoppers and 541 students – took part in the closet. A total of 13,940 items, such as tops, bottoms, sweatshirts, coats, underwear, bras, socks and shoes, were provided to shoppers.

Academic, athletic recognition

The district honored numerous students for their accomplishments in various UIL competitions this spring. Heritage High School’s computer science team won the state championship at the State Academic UIL competition in Austin. The team, coached by Clayton Patterson and Ryan Jarrell, also had individual state championships from Dylan Smith (computer science) and Mariam Jalloh (writing).

Pulkith Paruchuri took fourth place in computer science and Siddharth Kumar was sixth in number sense. Ritvik Katla and Shreyas Pattabi were also on the winning computer science team.

On the athletic field, track stars and a baseball team were also honored.

Wakeland’s baseball team was honored for reaching the Class 5A semifinals before falling to eventual champion Georgetown.

Lebanon Trail track standout Laila Hackett was honored for taking second in the 100-meter dash and fourth in the 200-meter dash at the Class 5A track finals. A soon-to-be senior, she holds five school records. Lone Star’s Hannah Ford was honored for being a runner-up in the long jump and having one of the top 10 distances in the state, regardless of class. She also broke her triple jump record three times this year. Ford will be attending Panther Creek in the fall, giving the school a returning all-stater in the first year of existence.

Also honored was Liberty’s Chris Johnson. A recent graduate, who will compete at Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau next year, won the state championship in the long jump despite being seeded sixth heading into the state meet.

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