School Board Considers Library Book Approval Process, Banning Books


Photo by Mansfield ISD Communications Department

The MISD School Board is considering a new policy where, if adopted, would require the school board to approve each new book in school libraries, revoking the privilege from the campus librarians.

Connor Whitfill, Staff Writer

A new policy on what library books can be on the shelves of MISD libraries will be discussed once again at Tuesday’s (May 23) meeting. The policy basically takes away the job of approving books from each MISD librarian and requires the board to approve books.

Last school year, parents in Mansfield ISD took to Facebook to discuss their concerns about books in school libraries across the district. The books in speculation included All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, L8r G8r by Lauren Myracle and Crank by Ellen Hopkins. Parents attended the school board meeting on April 10, 2023, expressing their concerns. One MISD parent, Denise Lenski, encourages MISD to follow through with a book ban policy to help censor children from explicit content.

“Some of the books that the public commenters read out of were utterly despicable,” Ms. Lenski said in a statement at the meeting. “We must protect the innocence of children, sometimes that requires the banning of books.” 

In response to Lenski’s claims at the board meeting, Librarian Kristin Hendrix stepped up and listed the requirements to become a librarian in MISD. Hendrix hopes to show how librarians should be capable enough to choose which books should stay and which ones should be removed from the school libraries. Librarians are required to have a master’s degree accredited by the American Library Association which she used to emphasize the control librarians should have over the books available. 

“Selecting books for [Annette Perry Elementary] is something I’m highly qualified for,” Ms. Hendrix said. “I help ignite the love of reading and books.”

Christina Fuentes, a parent of an MISD student, donates at least five books every month to a local library. She believes that no one, except the parents of a particular student, should have the decision to decide what students can and cannot read. 

“Having a child love reading encourages learning,” Ms. Fuentes said. “You do not have the right to say what my children cannot read.”

The books that some people want banned are not in Legacy’s Library. Legacy Librarian Pamela Pinkerton stated how any parent can request a book restriction for their student if they wish to do so.

“Explicit is a subjective term,” Pinkerton said. “Some parents would believe that any curse words at all are explicit and some parents believe they are okay.” 

At the May 16 meeting, a soon-to-be graduate from Mansfield High School spoke against the new policy.

“Diversity and exposure create well-rounded children and eventual adults. I believe this policy update is actively working against the beliefs of this district and all children that are in it,” the MHS student said.

The board and administration continue to work on the details policy. Some commenters, like Lenski, intend to continue expressing concerns about the sexual content that surrounds her child and other MISD students.

“I do believe that every one of these books on this list should be banned at all MISD schools, and I respectfully request that they all be removed,” Lenski said.