When Instructional Materials are Challenged in Kent School District
Our core values, equity, excellence, and community, drive our culture in Kent School District (KSD) and answer the question, “How do we want to act, consistent with our mission of successfully preparing all students for their futures?”. As a learning community, family and community members serve as partners in the education of our students. Students also play a vital role as agents of their own education. However, this partnership demands a commitment to creating a welcoming, student-centered learning environment for each and every student regardless of race, ethnicity, learning difference, linguistic ability, zip code, religion, gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation. When we in KSD meet this commitment, then we will fulfill our mission.
Instructional materials used in our district are classified into the categories of core, intervention, supplemental, and cursory materials. They are selected following board policy and procedure.
In selecting all instructional materials (Policy 2020) for students, KSD staff are cautioned to preview such materials thoroughly and to give due consideration to the maturity level of students; appropriateness of language; bias against racial, gender, ethnic, or other social groups; the degree of violence, nudity, or sexual explicitness; and other sensitive issues. Procedure 2021P specifically categorizes library materials as supplementary and gives the principal the responsibility to approve content. It refers back to Procedure 2020P for handling challenges.
Occasionally, a student, staff, or family member will raise a concern about instructional materials being used. Sometimes, as shared in recent board meetings, a member of our learning community may challenge learning materials. Currently, a middle school student has challenged the appropriateness of two books based on concerns of sexually explicit content. The challenged books are Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by Lev AC Rosen and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo.
At this time, according to Procedure 2020P, the books in question remain available to students and staff in KSD libraries to reserve until a decision is rendered following all related curriculum and instructional materials, policies and procedures. “While there has been media coverage and public discussion focused on the adults involved and the policy and procedure, as a district our foremost concern is for the student at the heart of the matter, a student we are so proud of for using their voice to be an agent of their own educational experience. Now we follow the process, and ultimately, I trust in my staff, our Instructional Materials Committee, and our school board to see the book challenges through and follow board policies and procedures to make the decision that is in the best interest of all of our students," says Interim Superintendent Israel Vela.
In Kent School District, we believe every KSD student, family, and staff member deserves a respectful, welcoming, and inclusive learning environment where their diversity is recognized, valued, and contributes to their success. Our libraries are inclusive when all students can find themselves reflected in the books and materials on the shelves. As a district, we are committed to creating and sustaining learning and working environments enriched and improved by the contributions, perspectives, and presence of our diverse student body, families, staff, and community.