Utah State Board of Education approves library materials policy
After months of discussion, the Utah State Board of Education approved a library materials model policy on Tuesday.
The approved policy, which is designed to reflect the contributions of community members, board members, the Office of the Attorney General and USBE staff, is meant to provide guidance to Utah schools during the reviewal process of possibly sensitive school materials.
“Districts and charter schools will now use the model policy to develop a systematic process and timeframe for reviewing all school library materials using a sensitive materials rubric to ensure compliance with Utah law,” reads a press release. Each district and charter school has until Sept. 1 to approve the policy.
This policy was created in response to HB 374, Sensitive Materials in Schools, which prohibits certain sensitive materials in public schools and was passed into law earlier this year, as well as the state school board’s School Libraries rules.
According to the policy, a library professional or designated volunteer will be required to, initially, select all library materials under the direction of the local governing board in order to create a collection that “reflects diversity of ideas” and “that adheres to the law.”
The final policy sets guidelines for who may file a sensitive materials review request and the process by which a review committee is formed and when it must reach a decision, as well as the process for appealing a review committee decision.
Material review requests can be made by students who attend the questioned school, parents of students who attend that school, or employees of that school. The identity of those who request material reviews will be kept private from others outside of the review process.
The policy states that once library materials are under review, students will have restricted access to them until the process is complete. These materials will be kept behind the library circulation desk and only given to students who have prior parent or guardian permission, or require an access code if digital.
According to the policy, LEAs will be required to ensure that each school approves a “least restrictive, transparent process” for reviewing requested library materials. A list of restricted materials will be made available to the public at an unspecified date.
At the end of the review process, committees will decide if a library material will either be retained and students will have full access to it, restricted so that students have limited access with parental permission, or removed from the school entirely.