Natrona School Board Approves Updated Controversial Issues Policy
On Monday, the Natrona County School Board of Trustees voted in favor of a revised controversial issues policy on a second reading after making some changes at an earlier policy meeting.
The changes made at the board policy committee earlier on Monday were mostly minor, changing the word child to student and the definition of sexually explicit images was updated.
In 1982, the policy was originally adopted, with revisions made in 1999 and 2000, and it was reviewed in 2013.
Librarians were also present at the committee meeting on Monday, and at a previous, and were asked by the board if they had any issues with the policy, and they said there weren't any major issues with it.
At the Monday meeting, Trustee Kianna Smith said that if the policy is adopted, it will be up to the administration to decide how they want to implement the new policy that will need to be followed by all schools in the district.
The new policy has several definitions for what counts as a library learning resource material, sexually explicit materials, library collections, and library circulation.
It defines sexually explicit as "Any picture, photograph, drawings, motion picture films, digital image, or similar visual representation depicting the human sexual acts of masturbation, intercourse, or direct physical stimulation of the genitals."
Working off that definition, it states that "It is the District’s objective to choose material that provides educational content appropriate to students in the District rather than material that may provide similar content with sexually explicit images."
The policy also requires that libraries have a list of all the books that are readable by students.
Tanya Southerland, Director of Public Relations for the NCSD, said that it could take up to a month for the district to nail down how it will interpret the new policy.
Treasurer Dave Applegate said he's in favor of the new policy, thanked people in the community for speaking to the board about the policy, and that it may take a while for librarians to implement the updated policy.
"The [Kelly Walsh] librarian has not and does not intentionally purchase books with such imagery," Applegate said. "However, the proliferation of graphic novels and the size of our libraries...this policy if adopted will take effort to implement. We may have some existing graphic novels that have such imagery and entities providing professional books reviews often do not highlight that such imagery exists in the books being reviewed. Hence I am asking that grace be extended to district librarians if they are asked to implement this revised policy. I know they care deeply about all students. They work diligently to follow board policy, and they strive to provide excellent resources for all students."
While Applegate has mentioned at previous meetings that he is in favor of a kind of rating system, similar to the one used for movies, Southerland said that if the administration does adopt something to that effect, it will be made public at some point in the future.