EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Davis School District board votes to retain Bible in all district libraries

Jun 21, 2023, 6:44 AM | Updated: Oct 23, 2023, 2:26 pm

A Bible is held at a rally at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on June 7 to voice concern regarding th...

A Bible is held at a rally at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on June 7 to voice concern regarding the decision of the Davis School District to remove the Bible from some schools. The board voted unanimously Tuesday to reverse the decision. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

FARMINGTON — The Davis School District board on Tuesday voted unanimously to reverse the decision of an initial review committee and retain the Bible in all district libraries after weeks of controversy and criticism.

Senator Weiler weighs in at 9:20!

 

The district received a request to review the King James version of the Bible in December, and earlier this month, the King James version of the Bible was removed from all elementary and junior high libraries in the district.

 

The committee that reviewed the Bible for the district explained that the “book does not contain sensitive material as defined in Utah Code,” so it chose to retain the version in high schools but remove it from all elementary and junior high schools based on “vulgarity and violence” that may not be age-appropriate.

Review committees for the district are made up of an odd number of people and each committee includes a facilitator selected by the district’s teaching and learning director, at least one administrator working in a district department or school, a licensed teacher who is teaching English language arts or another relevant subject in a district school, a librarian who works in a district school and a minimum of four parents with students enrolled in a district school, according to district policy.

“If the committee determines that the work contains sensitive materials, it’s removed in all schools,” Logan Toone, the district’s assistant superintendent, told lawmakers during a meeting last week. “If the committee determines that the work does not include sensitive materials, then they determine age-appropriateness.”

Within days of the announcement of the decision, “the district received several appeal requests and immediately began processing appeals,” Chris Williams, Davis School District spokesman, said in an email.

The decision to remove the Bible from elementary and junior high libraries drew outrage and sharp criticism from lawmakers who called it “reprehensible” and “embarrassing.”

Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Pleasant Grove, criticized the district’s policy during an Administrative Rules Review and General Oversight Committee meeting last week, saying the standards set by the districts either don’t work or aren’t being followed.

“We’ll help you clarify them, but frankly, this is embarrassing. It’s embarrassing for the state and it’s embarrassing for the Davis School District,” Brammer said.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the district responded to allegations that the initial committee’s decision and the district’s process were intentionally manipulated to undermine HB374 — which lawmakers have described as a way to weed out content found to be pornographic from K-12 libraries and classrooms.

“This is wholly untrue,” the statement reads. “The district has always acted with intent to uphold the law and maintain school libraries free from harmful material. As soon as HB374 went into effect and guidance from USBE (Utah State Board of Education) and the Attorney General’s Office was received, the district began revising policy and implementing library media reviews.”

So far, the district has conducted reviews for 60 books. Thirty-seven were removed from all district libraries for violating the “bright line rule” (instructional materials that are pornographic or indecent), 14 books were restricted at some levels due to age-appropriateness and nine were retained at all levels.

“As with any new policy, the district’s library review process will likely require some revisions, but the Davis School District stands by the process currently in place. The committee-based process is thoughtful, methodical, respectful of varying perspectives, and compliant with Utah law. It allows for appeals to be considered when a committee’s decision seems to be at odds with community values. The process takes time and it isn’t perfect, but it is working,” the statement said.

“We urge the community — including policymakers — to continue to support a thoughtful committee-based process for library media reviews currently in place.”

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Davis School District board votes to retain Bible in all district libraries