Conejo School Board releases final book selection/opt-out policy

By George Miller

As reported last week, the Conejo Valley Unified School District board approved a new book selection and opt-out policy, or as they call it: “Selection and Evaluation of Instructional Materials.”

It was a messy meeting, since the version submitted for approval by board member Sandee Everett was disputed, as the Superintendent’s committee would not approve her suggested changes. However, a last minute negotiating session brought the two parties much closer together on some disputed issues and cleaned up some other items.

Everett walked into the meeting with a marked up copy which the public had not seen and board members hadn’t seen long enough to make a decision. Opposition board member Betsy Connolly wanted to continue the meeting to a future date. However, Everett read a summary of the changes to the 11 page document. Connolly insisted on going through it, nearly paragraph by paragraph, making for a long, tedious meeting. Everett yielded on some points and the board voted on what they thought they heard to pass it 3-1, with Conollly dissenting and Phelps absent.


Today, we obtained a final version of the policy from Ms. Everett, which we make available to you here:  BP6161.1 Selection and Evaluation of Instructional Materials.

When we asked her if this was the final version and had it been vetted by legal and the supt. she responded: “Yes – it was looked over by attorneys prior to the first submission.  There has never been an issue with Ed Code.  Dr. Connolly made that up and is unfamiliar with the ed codes cited.”

The changes discussed are contained in the article linked below and/or in the meeting video (linked there). The policy makes the selection process more transparent by also including the board and the public in the process. Admittedly, this also makes it more cumbersome and makes objections more likely. It also gives parents more visibility of proposed materials, their nature and provides a clear path for ironclad parental control (if they choose to exercise it) over what is taught to their kids, This applies only to the grades 9-12 literature list.

The opposition, who seemed to be mostly teachers’ union, Progressive pressure groups and a large contingent of Newbury Park H.S. students, were not exactly happy with the results, stating that teachers should have full control of literature choices, that parents and the board lacked the expertise to determine suitable materials and that this was “censorship.” They did not acknowledge that the People have every right to determine community standards, which would have an impact on the curriculum. We saw nothing in all the proceedings of the last few months to indicate that teachers would not be listened to. The effort behind the policy appeared to be more of a way to veto very unacceptable choices which sometimes result. Parental rights over the curricula are clearly affirmed in Department Of Education (CDE) codes.

But this is a significant change to current district practices. We noticed that multiple speakers said that there was already an opt-out policy. If there was, it wasn’t formal and hardly anyone was aware of it. Now, they will be.

Other regional media clearly disagree with the board’s vote and predict “censorship,” loss of reputation of CVUSD, even an exodus from the schools and decline in real estate values. We’re not making this up- Google it.

It is true that the new policy would make it more likely that books on the state warning list would not be put on the core literature list, or if they were, would be less likely to be chosen for individual teachers’ curricula. It also makes it more probable that parents will identify and reject unacceptable books that do make it on the list. This makes it more likely that teachers may have to also teach alternative selections, from district curricula.

The recent 4-1 vote to accept the objectionable book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian” suggests that things aren’t as dire as the opposition fears. Time and how this policy is actually managed will tell.


Conejo Valley School District passes new book selection/opt-out policy

Conejo Valley School District passes new book selection/opt-out policy

By George Miller- After a long, hard, bitterly fought battle, the Conejo Valley Unified School District board passed a sweeping new book selection and parental opt-out policy. Like last week’s meeting,  there was an overflow crowd. Opposition outnumbered the advocates and was composed mostly of faculty, some parents and lots of kids, mostly from Newbury Park […]

George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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William Hicks
William Hicks
3 years ago

So good to see this publicized. Now, the question is, will parents/guardians assert their rights/obligations in this matter?