GRAPEVINE, Texas — Students in the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District will not have the chance to select books at a Scholastic Book Fair this year, as the district has pulled the plug and is searching for another vendor.
The district said Scholastic didn't provide a full list of every book it would sell at the fair.
In an email to WFAA, the district said there were two instances where a book was "mis-merchandised" and students bought books that were "not age-appropriate" during a previous fair.
"In working with the vendor, we made requests to ensure that this would be avoided in the future. Those requests included that the vendor provide a comprehensive list of the books that would be for sale at the fairs 14 days in advance, and at this time, the vendor has not offered assurances that they could comply with our expectations," said the district in a statement. "We believe the book fair is a positive experience for students and will continue working to ensure that we have book fairs on our campuses this year."
In a statement to WFAA, Scholastic said it was only aware of one instance where a student purchased an adult book, but said it hopes it can partner with the district in the future.
"For decades, parents teachers and educators have trusted us to curate the best age-appropriate, high-interest books for kids at Scholastic Book Fairs. Every title found in a Scholastic Book Fair has been curated by a team of experts to ensure it meets the highest standards of our school communities," said Scholastic in a statement.
“I mean, even as a child in the seventies, I remember the Scholastic book fairs and it's always been an exciting thing. So, I find the timing suspect,” GCISD parent Laura Leeman said.
Leeman has two boys in GCISD. She is also a co-administrator of a group called, Protect GCISD.
“To me, it's a very clear message that there are politically driven groups who want to control our public education system,” Leeman said.
Leeman said she participated in the district’s book reviews, which she believes were conducted well and transparently.
She said she agrees some books should only be available to age-appropriate students, but these books should not be completely removed from schools.
“For me, it's an opportunity to have discussion. That's the whole purpose of reading, right? It’s to learn things. But also ask questions,” Leeman said. “I might not agree with something. I might read something. It might educate me a little bit more.”
"We are disappointed that GCISD chose not to host Scholastic Book Fairs this fall, but hope to serve their students again in the future," Scholastic said in a statement. "Scholastic is excited to begin another year of hosting fairs across Texas, and we are as deeply committed as ever to work with our school partners."
Leeman and other parents point to the politics at play, urging other parents to pay attention to what’s going on in their school boards.
“I think we're teetering down a very difficult path right now and it greatly concerns me, which is why I have no problem speaking about it, because I know we need to do that.”
GCISD’s next school board meeting is Monday.
The district said in an email to parents it was searching for other options.