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Nampa School Board discusses formal procedure to address book complaints

Banned books 3.jpg
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
On Wednesday, Rediscovered Books handed out more than 1,000 free copies of books recently banned by the Nampa School District.

Nampa School District is creating a process to challenge books after it removed titles from its schools in spring.

The ban garnered national attention in May after the school board removed 22 books it deemed inappropriate, including novels from Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood. After that, the trustees asked for a formal process and guidance to handle future complaints.

In a special meeting on Monday, trustee Marco Valle said the board needed to create guidelines that reflect what the community wants.

"Our job is to protect children," he said. "And because  the world changes, it doesn’t mean we have to change."

He also said librarians were not experts on children and professionals, like psychologists, should be consulted to determine which criteria to follow for removals.

The current draft lays out four levels of the procedure, from receiving a complaint to presenting it to a panel that would make a recommendation on the book or material in question. It would then be deemed either appropriate and remain in circulation, educational and remain accessible but with restrictions or inappropriate and be removed from the school entirely.

Trustee Jeff Kirkman highlighted the difficulty of coming up with standardized criteria for the panel to follow during the recommendation process.

"How do we get to that point?" he said. "I don't know. There are so many variables."

In response, trustee Brook Taylor said she wanted to stay out of the weeds.

"I love the idea of having a very clear-cut and concise way for us to challenge those materials," she said. "Because there's books in the library still, as told by our librarians, that are, some of them, worse than the books that were taken off the shelf."

One guiding principle the trustees agreed on was that only residents and employees of the district could file a complaint and go through the process.

Following the discussion, the board decided to plan more work sessions to hammer down the details, postponing finalizing the wording of the procedure manual.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.