San Antonio's North East ISD yanks 110 books following review requested by right-wing lawmaker

District officials said they replaced the removed books with similar ones that were "more positively reviewed."

click to enlarge Conservative State Rep. Matt Krause speaks at the Texas Capitol. His request for school districts to account for books related to gender, race and sexuality predated NEISD's review. - Twitter / @RepMattKrause
Twitter / @RepMattKrause
Conservative State Rep. Matt Krause speaks at the Texas Capitol. His request for school districts to account for books related to gender, race and sexuality predated NEISD's review.
North East Independent School District has pulled 110 books from its libraries after reviewing 432 titles that a crusading Republican state lawmaker put on a list because they might make students feel "uncomfortable," the Express-News reports.

Officials with the district — one of the state's largest — told the daily that they removed books that lacked reviews, had poor reviews, featured outdated content or were seldom checked out. District representatives said they'd replaced those titles with newer editions or similar ones that were "more positively reviewed."

During the district's Monday night meeting, civil rights attorney Amy Senia blasted the purge, saying it violates students' First Amendment rights, the Express-News reports.

“Public schools in this country are not places of indoctrination," said Senia, a NEISD alum. "They are not places where the ideas children read about are determined by those people who are in power."

At the meeting, NEISD Superintendent Sean Maika argued that the review was justified because the district must ensure library materials are age appropriate, according to the Express-News.

“We are not reviewing books on the basis of viewpoints or ideas that are expressed within those books,” he said.

Even so, NEISD started its review following a demand late last year by Texas Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, that districts reveal whether they own copies of some 850 books related to race, gender issues or sexuality that he identified on a list.

The right-wing lawmaker maintained that he was investigating school reading material that "might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish." Many of the books on his list were by LGBTQ authors and authors of color.

Krause fired off his letter amid his campaign for Texas attorney general. Since then, the Tea Partier scrapped that bid to run instead for Tarrant County district attorney. He's now headed to a May 24 runoff for the GOP nomination in that contest.

An online petition asking NEISD not to remove books from its libraries garnered more than 14,000 signatures. The petition calls the targeted books offer a "safe haven" for marginalized students, adding that the district "has no legal obligation to comply" with Krause's request.

NEISD's review also drew strong condemnation from free-speech group PEN America, which said officials' removal of the reading material is inconsistent with existing policies for reviewing books.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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