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On Monday night, parents of Tyler ISD students showed concern toward the campus libraries and the books that are available to read and check out. Books were described as “something that can be found on Penthouse Forum” and considered “very graphic” to the younger audience.

Although the parents had strong concerns about the books, Superintendent Marty Crawford released a statement during the reconvene from the executive session and said the board and district were aware of the issue.

“Tyler ISD is aware of the Legislative committee and the Texas governor statewide inquiries concerning appropriateness of library curriculum materials. The board and district administration are in agreement with our community that resources, curriculum products and classroom instruction should be in alignment with local and public expectations,” he said.

Crawford also said the Tyler ISD board policy outlines appropriate steps and campus practices for review of materials, reiterating both the district board and the district administration view this issue as crucial.

He also mentioned over the past month, district administration has reached out to the Texas Education Agency officials, discussed with district principals on the issue in hand and it’s advising strategies to review, and if determine, redirect or seize improper resources.

Resources seen as “developmentally, cognitively or socially inappropriate” will be reviewed, Crawford said.

“The district will continue to monitor selection and purchasing, and will respond appropriately,” he added. “Ultimately as they do with their own children, this board and administration believes certain topics have no place in our schools and are fortunate to have parents to work with their children in sensitive extra curricular topics away from school.”

During the public participation, Jennifer White, parent of a Tyler ISD student, expressed her concerns.

“My concern is that there’s a lot of damage that has been done already,” White said. “We know that there’s a mental health epidemic among teenagers. They have depression, anxiety problems like we never did when we were younger. A lot of them are searching for an identity, they are searching for help, they are searching for acceptance.”

White didn’t address the book she referred to, but considered it “something that can be found on Penthouse Forum.”

“Sometimes it’s not healthy when they go to the library and they find a book like this,” she said. “Would you want them sitting in their bedroom, learning about sexuality in these ways?”

White asked the board of trustees to clean up the libraries for the safety of students.

“For our students’ safety, for mental health and for their future sexual health, for their moral well-being,” she said.

Another parent of a Tyler ISD student, Christin Bentley, expressed her anger toward the books inside the Tyler Legacy High School library. She said Legacy was her first stop since it’s one of the biggest schools in the district.

She brought in “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” a book with personal essays about a LGBTQ activist who talks about his personal bullying experiences, and his first sexual relations.

“This book is in your library, and it depicts very graphic sexual intercourse, very graphic. If this book was made into a movie, it would be pornography,” she said.

The description of the book states how it’s about the struggles and triumphs of queer Black boys.

“If you had a teacher read this book to my child whether he was alone, by himself or in a classroom, I would call Sheriff (Larry) Smith and I would have an investigation,” she said. “Because books like these are sexually grooming children, books like these are telling children that it’s OK to have sexual experiences with adults.”

She asked the district to have a special committee look into what books Tyler ISD libraries hold. She also mentioned that she started researching for the books located inside the campus libraries, so far she has a list of 120 “questionable” books she has found, she said she expects the list to grow.

Another item in the agenda was an update about early literacy and numeracy update, which Tyler ISD Board President Wade Washmon said the Tyler ISD goal is for the percentage of third-grade students that pass the Reading STAAR test to increase.

Washmon said Tyler ISD has set the goal to increase the percentage of 67% to 74% by June of 26 and third-grade math STAAR to increase from 72% to 79%.

 
 

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Photographer and Video Editor but I also cover community outreach, events and features. Stephen F. Austin State University Alumna. Houstonian reporting in East Texas since January of 2021. Story ideas? email me at aconejo@tylerpaper.com