“We will bring a draft to the board and the community for initial review at the November 14 board meeting,” Warner told school board members at their Oct. 17 meeting.
Warner shared with the board a timeline for the policy changes. The board will first adopt a version of the state’s model policy, then consider changing the school division’s regulations — for selecting textbooks and library books and for handling complaints — to comply with the new policy.
Under the new policy, parents would receive at least 30 days’ notice of the use of any educational materials with “sexually explicit content” and would be able to inspect and review the materials. In addition, parents will be able to request alternative assignments.
“Educational materials” do not include school library books, unless the books are used for homework or as part of a curricular or extracurricular program. However, the new policy will likely require some changes to the division’s current regulations regarding library book and textbook adoptions and its process for handling parent complaints about books, Warner said. “It’s going to hit a number of different areas,” he said.
Here’s Warner’s timeline:
Nov. 30: The draft policy will be on the agenda of a school board summit. Board members will also learn details about a special committee, comprised of stakeholders, that will study how to bring division bylaws into line with the new policy.
December 12: Earliest date the school board could vote on a new policy for “sexually explicit” materials.
January 23, 2023: Deadline for adopting the policy, according to state law.
July or August 2023: Adoption of any division bylaw changes required to comply with the law.
He said that between January and May, the committee, which includes staff, will work on Fauquier-specific regulations specifying how “we will communicate information about ‘sexually explicit’ materials that are in our schools,” a- he declared. One idea for changing local policy is to create a rubric, or grading guide, that would help determine which books are selected for libraries, Warner said.
School officials are already updating the school division library and medical services web page to make it easier for students, families and staff to use. So far, it puts information about each school’s books, librarians and book selection policies in one place, said David Kuzma, supervisor of library and media services.
“I can speak of the collaboration our librarians do with the educational support program and as a parent of three children, I can attest to their willingness to meet us halfway as parents,” Kuzma said.