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QISD Board Discusses Policy on Book Donations

During their June 7 meeting the board of the Questa Independent School District (QISD) discussed their policy on book donations after the district received a donation from the Taos Rotary Club, which included some allegedly inappropriate books for students.

“In [the donation] there were a couple of older books that were really inappropriate for kiddos,” Superintendent John Maldonado told the Board.

Superintendent Maldonado gave an example of one of the books in question, a book on Jack the Ripper describing it as “a very violent book.”

Superintendent Maldonado also told the Board that the Rotary Club sent a statement to the QISD apologizing for the books in question saying that “this is something they’ve never experienced before.”
Maldonado revealed there were about eight books, “And some of it wasn’t just language, there was one about two princesses that went off and got married and stuff like that.”

“The thing that I was mad about was that [the books] were for kindergartners,” said Board Member Juan Cisneros.

“Yeah, it was the young ones,” confirmed Superintendent Maldonado.

“The other one that I brought in, maybe an 8th Grader should be able to read those words but, the content of a book, a high school student has no business reading about prostitutes,” continued Board Member Cisneros.

“Not from a school,” agreed Board Member Jose Lovato.

“We had another one where the language in it was very inappropriate,” said Superintendent Maldonado. “It’s not something that should be in a school.”

“My opinion is that this organization [Taos Rotary Club] burned their bridge here,” said Board Member Cisneros. “I wouldn’t take the chance of bringing them back in any fashion. Not just them but also the theater deal in Taos,” referring to a recent production of Alice in Wonderland by Taos Children’s Theatre by which the Board was also upset. “These kinds of things we don’t want here especially if the parents don’t have permission slips . . . because, once a child is exposed to it, there’s no taking that back; our job as the Board is to protect these kids.”

Superintendent Maldonado suggested to the Board that the District be more selective in the future regarding book donations and to politely decline any future donations from the Rotary Club specifically.
“Shouldn’t the donation itself have come to the Board,” asked Board Member Cisneros. “Because what if a board member’s kid didn’t get one of these, how far along would it have gone?”

“I think we’ve done a good job with the Questa Library,” said Board Member Lovato. “We should just keep things going with them, they understand us a lot.”

“And those books that actually come from the Library are sorted into grade level.” agreed Superintendent Maldonado.

“A large part with them rating the books is that they’re rated on the reading level, not on the content,” said Board Member Cisneros. “It’s just can [the kids] read the words. Should they? Probably not.”
There was no official action on this topic at this meeting but there seemed to be a consensus on the Board to be more selective with book donations in the future as well as to decline future donations from the Rotary Club.

A recording of the discussion can be viewed at the Questa del Rio News’ YouTube page here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8iCTfIZVho.