A public feud between a Frisco-based state lawmaker and a local school superintendent over sexually explicit books in students’ libraries heated up this week.
On Thursday, State Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco) wrote an open letter criticizing Frisco Independent School District Superintendent Mike Waldrip for failing to act quickly or effectively when parents complained about the books.
That letter was in response to a message Waldrip sent last month to district parents and staff, in which he implied Patterson’s involvement over the past several months was unhelpful political grandstanding.
“We need action now!” Patterson said in his letter to Waldrip:
From the very beginning, you should have taken responsibility, acknowledged the issue, apologized, and immediately instituted reforms to ensure this would never happen again. Instead, you minimized it. First, by silencing concerned parents at board meetings; second, by denying the number of problematic books “slipping through the cracks”; and third, by disparaging me for representing my constituents and their concerns to the district who would not listen to them.
Waldrip’s message, sent just days after two conservative school board challengers beat establishment candidates in Frisco IDS’s May 7 election, finally addressed months of concerns raised by parents and community members about sexually inappropriate library books.
“Please know that we are completely committed to finding ways to identify and remove inappropriate content from our libraries and prevent it from making its way onto our shelves in the future,” he wrote, describing proposed “new guidelines and policies” for reviewing library materials.
Waldrip also spent five paragraphs belittling Patterson’s efforts to highlight explicit books found in Frisco ISD libraries, mentioning him by name eight times.
While many social media posts, including those from Representative Jared Patterson, have suggested that the District has been seeking to minimize this issue, I want to be clear that from the time the issue first entered the public discourse, our library staff has taken it very seriously. …
This work was underway well before Representative Patterson reached out to the District or began posting on social media about this issue… .
Instead of working collaboratively with the District to find real solutions to this problem, Representative Patterson posted on social media. …
“With over 1,000,000 titles, it will take more than a year to re-evaluate our collection for compliance with our new guidelines,” Waldrip added, “but the sooner we can remove inappropriate content, the better.”
A week after criticizing Patterson, Frisco ISD posted on Facebook that Waldrip met with State Rep. Matt Shaheen (R–Plano) to discuss how the district can “partner” with Shaheen and the Legislature to “seek solutions at the state level.”
Patterson, who began championing the obscene book issue back in January on behalf of constituents in his district, fired back Thursday:
In your May 19th letter, you state that the District has “consistently expressed that we are unequivocally committed to ensuring our libraries do not contain sexually inappropriate materials.” However, the same individuals supposedly committed to this statement and comprehensive review – you included – are:
- Approving staff to attend conferences in which drag queens and pro-Critical Race Theory activists are the guest speakers.
- Employing library staff who openly profess to training other librarians to be “disruptive, co-conspiring advocates” for far left social causes, to “read woke”, and “to bring in and educate white folx”.
- Allowing graphic rape and sex displays at Reedy High School, which I had to publicly bring to your attention before it was removed.
- Retaining copies of explicit books such as All Boys Aren’t Blue by George Matthew Johnson, Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, and Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett in FISD libraries as of this writing.
So, what exactly is the District committed to?
“Practically every explicit book parents have sent us is found in one or more of your school libraries,” Patterson wrote, describing the types of graphic sexual images, descriptions, and themes contained in the books.
“Clearly, we are a long way from innuendo or suggestion,” he said. “We are talking about pornography and books so graphic in nature, Texas school children could not purchase them directly without parental consent.”
Patterson also noted his efforts to hold book vendors accountable for selling obscene materials to schools, and criticized the district’s proposed solution to rely on different book reviewers.
“Your position of not following the ratings of one reviewer or increasing positive reviews is moot because nationally, we’ve found these sexually explicit books highly rated by practically all ratings entities,” he said. “Some of them have even won awards!”
Frisco parents who have been pleading with district officials for months to proactively remove and review sexually inappropriate books were skeptical of Waldrip and applauded Patterson.
“Every word you said is true, including the Team of 8’s disdainful treatment of the parents,” said Frisco ISD mom Allison Darrell, thanking Patterson for calling out Waldrip and the board. “Our voices ought to be THE MOST IMPORTANT voices to the Board and administration. Instead, we are condescended to and railroaded.”
“This would have been the simplest issue to unite the whole community on,” said another Frisco parent, Heidi Stone. “People are losing faith that Waldrip will lead on behalf of students best interest. THANK YOU for using your voice and influence on behalf of FISD students and teachers and taxpayers.”
Patterson concluded, “I will not rest until significant changes are made at the district and state levels to ensure these types of extremely graphic materials never make it onto a bookshelf in a school library again.”
The next 140-day legislative session begins January 10, 2023. Patterson noted that new laws passed during the session won’t take effect until September 2023 at the earliest. Lawmakers can begin pre-filing bills on November 14.
Frisco ISD trustees will consider new library book policies, including “an expedited review process for books alleged to contain obscene content” at their next school board meeting on June 13.