Instructions to the District 105 Reconsideration Committee
The policy of this school district related to selection of materials within the library learning center collection is that any resident of the District may formally challenge materials. This policy allows persons in the school and the community who are not directly involved in the selection of materials to make their opinions known. The task of the Reconsideration Committee is to provide a forum for discussion of challenged materials and to make an informed decision on the challenge.
The most critical component of the reconsideration process is the establishment and maintenance of the committee's credibility in the community. The community should not, therefore, infer that the committee is biased or is obligated to uphold prior professional decisions. For this same reason, a community member (preferably a PTO member) will be selected to serve on the committee.
The reconsideration process, which is the task of this committee, is just one part of the selection continuum. Material is purchased to meet a need. It is reviewed and examined, if possible, prior to purchase. It is periodically re-evaluated through updating, discarding, or re-examination. The committee must be ready to acknowledge that an error in selection may have been made despite this process. Library media specialists and school employees regularly read great numbers of reviews in the selection process, and occasional errors are possible.
The Reconsideration Committee should adhere to the following recommendations:
- Bear in mind the principles of the freedom to learn and to read and base your decision on these broad principles rather than on defense of individual materials. Freedom of inquiry is vital to education in a democracy.
- Passages or parts should not be pulled out of context. The values and faults should be weighed against each other and the opinions based on the materials as a whole.
- Study thoroughly all materials referred to you and read available reviews. The general acceptance of the materials should be checked by consulting standard evaluation aids and local holdings in other schools.
- The committee will listen to the views of all interested persons before reaching a decision. In deliberating its decision, the committee should remember that the school system must be responsive to the needs, tastes, and opinions of the community it serves. Therefore, the committee must distinguish between broad community sentiment and attempts to impose personal standards. The deliberations should concentrate on the appropriateness of the material. The question to be answered by the committee is, "Is the material appropriate for its designated audience at this time?"
- The report, presenting both majority and minority opinions, will be presented by the principal to the complainant at the conclusion of your discussion of the questioned material.
If the complainant chooses, the complainant may make an oral presentation to the committee to expand and elaborate on the written complaint. The committee will listen to the new complaint, to those with special knowledge, and any other interested persons. In these discussions, the committee should be aware of relevant social premises which are affecting the situation. Individuals who may try to dominate or impose a decision must not be allowed to do so. Minority viewpoints expressed by groups or individuals must be heard, and observers must be made to feel welcome. It is important that the committee create a calm, nonvolatile environment in which to deal with a potentially volatile situation. To this end, the complainant will be kept continuously informed of the progress of the complaint.
The committee's final recommendation will be (1) to remove the challenged material from the total school environment, (2) to take no removal action, or (3) to agree on a limitation (to be specified by the committee) of the educational use of the materials.
The committee chairperson will convey the committee's recommendation to the office of the Superintendent. The recommendation should detail the rationale on which it was based. A letter will be sent to the complainant outlining the committee's final decision.
Return to Library Collection Development Procedures.