Sunday, December 7, 2014

Final FOI post


I was not able to receive any more documents, forms or information from Fort Worth ISD regarding banned books. I posted the documents I received from the school district in regards to one elementary school. A grandparent of one of the students expressed concern about three graphic novel series. In the documents, you will see there is written communication about this issue. The district resolved to allow the graphic novels, the Bone series, Ghostopolis, and the Amulet series to remain in the school, but will not be shelved among all of the other books. Instead, only upper elementary students may have access to and may check out the books.
The materials I received helped to explain the formal process Fort Worth ISD undergoes when handling concerns about books available in the schools. I would have liked to have seen the filled out Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials form for these graphic novels, but that was not available.
Overall, my project was not as challenging as I expected it to be. Fort Worth ISD officials were helpful and compliant in trying to find the documents and materials I requested. They contacted me within ten days after I faxed my FOIA request. Although I did not receive the exact documents that I had originally set out to find, it helped me better understand how this whole process works. Sometimes you can't find the exact documents and information you envision, and you must make do with what you receive. The school district just did not have many requests for book suspension in the school district. My original goal was to simply see how the book suspension/banning process is handled, and the documents I received help answer that question.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Requesting more information

I received documents from Fort Worth ISD concerning some of the information I requested.  However, like I mentioned in an earlier post, the school district did not necessarily have any specific documents with the information I requested. I requested information from the past two years, and in that time, only one elementary school reported a challenge on a book.

I received communication about the formal challenge from the JT Stevens Elementary school librarian as well as the documents and forms utilized by the school district in the event of a challenge. I would like to request the form that was actually filled out concerning the book in question.

However, I do appreciate that I was able to see the forms and process utilized in book suspension within the school district.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


About ten days after I faxed my request to Fort Worth ISD, I received a phone call from someone in the legal department. She said she would look into finding the information I requested about banned books in the school district. Unfortunately, there are no existing documents that I described, but she said there was information regarding what I requested and she would see what she could do.

She also asked my preferred method of contact, so I gave her my email address to send the documents. I am hoping to receive the documents or some form of the information I requested soon.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The FOIA Request

I faxed my Freedom of Information Act Request to the Fort Worth ISD legal department, and since I was told that fax is the fastest way to get the information from them, I expect to receive a response within the 10 days at the most, but hopefully within the week. If I do not receive a response, I will call them again, and then email my request.

Here is my request letter:

Fort Worth Independent School District
Public Information Request
Attention: Legal Services: Valerie Carrillo/ JoAnna Gomez
100 N. University Dr., Suite SW 172
Fort Worth, TX 76107

Freedom of Information Act Request
Dear Ms. Carrillo and Ms. Gomez,
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
I request that a copy of the following documents, or documents containing the following information, be provided to me: A list of the banned or suspended books in the past two years, a list of which books were requested to be banned or suspended in the past two years. I also request to be provided an explanation of the process the school district undergoes to decide which books to suspend or ban.
I request a waiver of all fees for this request. I am a journalism student at Texas Christian University requesting the documents in the public’s interest. Disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations contributing to the suspension and ban of books from public school students, and is not in any way for my commercial interest.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Molly Spain
TCU Box 290716
Fort Worth, TX, 76129
Cell: 972-978-2759


Monday, October 6, 2014

Banned Books FOI Project

I am requesting documents from Fort Worth Independent School District to obtain information regarding banned books over the past few years in the school district. I would like information regarding titles most frequently complained about. I would like to see the process the district utilizes to decide which books to suspend or ban, and which books have been suspended and banned in the past few years. I contacted the school district via phone and was redirected to the legal department, where they told me I must fax my formal request. It was interesting that they requested a fax rather than an email.
The reason why I chose to do this topic is because I am an English minor and am always interested in what about the literature sparks such debate in parents and school districts. The Highland Park incident a week or so ago also piqued my interest since the books on their ban list included An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, which is contemporary teen fiction. Green writes specifically for that high school audience. It was even more interesting, however, that the decision was later repealed.
This is why I would like to pursue the topic further, except in a different school district, to see how the process is handled.