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McKinney ISD couple challenges 282 books for removal within district; parents sound off at fiery board meeting

Paul and Rachel Elliott have an elementary school daughter within MISD and told WFAA Tuesday that most of the books they're challenging are sexually obscene.

MCKINNEY, Texas — Passionate and fiery comments were made by parents Tuesday night at McKinney ISD's regularly scheduled board meeting. The contentious debate surrounded 282 book challenges/library removals a couple had filed with all of the district's campuses last week. 

McKinney ISD has 31 schools. 

A district spokesperson told WFAA Tuesday night that the couple had won none of the challenges yet and that the district had removed no books. 

The district has had a path in place for parents to challenge books that they think are inappropriate, but the spokesperson said that few rarely use it, saying the district averages one to two challenges per year. 

Each school campus has a committee made up of administrators and teachers, and that committee reviews book challenges.

Parents who challenge a book must have read it in its entirety and must prove they've read it by detailing why it is inappropriate and where. 

Paul and Rachel Elliott are the two parents who filed the challenges. They told WFAA that they read all 282 books they're challenging and said each book is also on the 'Krause List.' 

Credit: WFAA

The Krause list is a compilation of roughly 850 books made by Republican State Rep. Matt Krause, of Fort Worth. 

In his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, Krause notified the Texas Education Agency in October that he is "initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content" and sent the list to superintendents to see how many are in school libraries and classrooms across the state. 

In November, Governor Greg Abbott also told state agencies to develop rules and regulations to block sexually explicit books within Texas public schools.

Per the Texas Tribune, Abbott’s directive to the Texas Education Agency, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and State Board of Education came days after the governor told another entity — the Texas Association of School Boards — to determine the extent to which “pornography or other inappropriate content” exists in public schools across the state and to remove it if found.

RELATED: Amid Texas school library controversy, here's a list of books in question

The Elliotts told WFAA they began reading books on the Krause List after it became public. 

 "It took some time, but I love my daughter, and I love the 23,000 other students within this district. I believe they're all worth it," Rachel Elliott said. 

"I love reading, and I truly want students to grow in a healthy environment, and the books contested don't promote a healthy lifestyle." 

Both parents said that the majority of books that they have an issue with are sexually explicit. 

"There are obscene sections of texts within many books. Those scenes are sexual; they deal with pornography, deviance, pedophilia, instances of rape, bestiality, and sodomy. So if that isn't obscene, then I don't know what is," Paul Elliott said. 

But both parents said they're not 'book burners' or for censorship of books. 

They only ask that parents buy these books with their own money and not taxpayer dollars. 

"If they as parents want to buy them -- go ahead. I stand for that freedom and liberty, and I'm just asking that they be removed from the library. They're not being watched over -- children can check out books without their parent's permission," Rachel Elliott said. 

A source within the district told WFAA that the Elliott's challenges were broadly stated within their paperwork and copied and pasted for each book. They added there were no detailed explanations of why each unique book should be banned. 

"We wanted to make sure that the district fully understood our statements. I wanted to make sure they heard us and understood our issues with the books," Rachel Elliott said to WFAA. 

The meeting drew roughly 30 people to speak before the board during public comment. There was no agenda item regarding the Elliott's challenges. 

Supporters for removing the books wore green in the meeting, and those against wore yellow since signs aren't allowed in the board's chambers. 

At one point, a man had to be escorted out of the meeting for heckling a high schooler who was speaking against the removal of the books. 

Board members reduced speaking times from 3 minutes to 1 minute, and when the high schooler went beyond her time, the man began interrupting the meeting. 

Police eventually approached him and took him to the parking lot. 

Kelly Roberts spoke against removing the books and has been a longtime PTA/PTO leader within the district. 

Her son is a student at McKinney Boyd High School. 

"First and foremost, I find it hard to believe that they read all of those books," Roberts said. "I'm actually in disbelief that this is even happening." 

Critics of these statewide content battles within libraries argue that most of the books in question center around important topics like sex, pregnancy, abortion, and LGBTQ values. Others include topics like race after lawmakers ousted any teachings of critical race theory statewide. 

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