604 Curriculum Development

604.1 Instructional Materials Selection

The Board has sole discretion to approve instructional materials for the school district. The Board delegates its authority to determine which instructional materials will be utilized and purchased by the school district to licensed employees. The licensed employees shall work closely together to ensure vertical and horizontal articulation of textbooks and other instructional materials in the education program.

The Board may appoint an ad hoc committee for the selection of instructional materials. The committee may be composed of school district employees, parents, students, community members or representatives of community groups.

In reviewing current instructional materials for continued use and in selecting additional instructional materials, the licensed employees shall consider the current and future needs of the school district as well as the changes and the trends in education and society. It shall be the responsibility of the superintendent to report to the board the action taken by the selection c

In making its recommendations to the superintendent, the licensed employees will select materials which:

  • support the educational philosophy of the school district;
  • consider the needs, age, interests, and maturity of students;
  • are within the school district’s budget;
  • foster respect and appreciation for cultural diversity and difference of opinion;
  • stimulate growth in factual knowledge and literary appreciation;
  • encourage students to become decision-makers, to exercise freedom of thought and to make independent judgment through the examination and evaluation of relevant information, evidence and differing viewpoints;
  • portray the variety of careers, roles, and lifestyles open to persons of both sexes;
  • offer students opportunities to extend and refine knowledge and use knowledge in meaningful ways.
  • increase an awareness of the rights, duties, and responsibilities of each member of a
  • multicultural society.

In the case of textbooks, the Board will make the final decision after a recommendation from the superintendent. The criteria stated above for selection of instructional materials will also apply to the selection of textbooks. The superintendent may appoint licensed employees to assist in the selection of textbooks.

Gifts of instructional materials must meet these criteria stated above for the selection of instructional materials.


Approved: 11/14/67

Reviewed: 5/13/19

Revised: 1/10/11; 6/10/13

604.1R1 Instructional Materials Selection Regulations

I. Responsibility for Selection of Instructional Materials

A. The Board is responsible for matters relating to the operation of the Spirit Lake Community School District.

B. The responsibility for the selection of instructional materials is delegated to the professionally trained and licensed employees of the school system. For the purpose of this rule the term “instructional materials” includes printed and nonprinted materials (not equipment), whether considered classroom materials or media center materials.

C. While selection of materials may involve many people including principals, teachers, students, parents, community members and media specialists, the responsibility for coordinating the selection of most instructional materials and making the recommendation for the purchase rests with licensed employees. For the purpose of this rule the term “media specialist” includes librarians, school media specialists or other appropriately licensed persons responsible for selection. Responsibility for coordinating the selection of materials for distribution to classes will rest with the licensed employees, principal and superintendent.  For the purpose of this rule, the term “materials” includes textbooks and other printed and nonprinted material provided in multiple copies for use of a total class or a segment of a class.

D. If the Board appoints an ad hoc committee to make recommendations on the selection of instructional materials, the ad hoc committee is formed and appointed in compliance with the Board policy.

1. The superintendent will inform the committee as to their role and responsibility in the process.

2. The following statement will be provided to the ad hoc committee members: “Bear in mind the principles of the freedom to learn and to read and base your decision on these broad principles rather than on defense of individual materials. Freedom of inquiry is vital to education in a democracy. Study thoroughly all materials referred to you and read available reviews. The general acceptance of the materials should be checked by consulting standard evaluation aids and local holdings in other schools. Passages or parts should not be pulled out of context. The values and faults should be weighed against each other and the opinions based on the material as a whole. Your report, presenting both  majority and minority opinions, will be presented by the principal to the complainant at the conclusion of our discussion of the questioned  material.”

II. Material selected for use in media centers and classrooms shall meet the following guidelines:

 A. Religion – Material shall represent the major religions in a factual, unbiased manner. The primary source material of the major religions shall be considered appropriate, but material which advocates rather than informs, or is designed to sway reader judgment regarding religion, shall not be included in the school media centers or classrooms.

B. Racism – Material shall present a diversity of race, custom, culture, and belief as a positive aspect of the nation’s heritage and give candid treatment to unresolved intercultural problems, including those which involve prejudice, discrimination, and the undesirable consequences of withholding rights, freedom, or respect of an individual.

C. Sexism – Material shall reflect a sensitivity to the needs, rights, traits, lifestyles and aspirations of men and women without preference or bias.

D. Age – Material shall recognize the diverse contributions of various age groups and portray the continuing contributions of maturing members of society.

E. Ideology – Material shall present basic primary and factual information on an ideology or philosophy of government which exerts or has exerted a strong force, either favorably or unfavorably, over civilization or society, past or present. This material shall not be selected with the intention to sway reader judgment and shall be related to the maturity level of the intended audience.

F. Profanity and Sex – Material shall be subjected to a test of literary merit and reality by the media specialists and licensed employees who will take into consideration their reading of public and community standards of morality.

G. Controversial issues materials will be directed toward maintaining a balanced collection representing various views.

The selection decision should be made on the basis of whether the material presents an accurate representation of society and culture, whether the circumstances depicted are realistically portrayed, or whether the material has literary or social value when the material is viewed as a whole.

These guidelines shall not be construed in such a manner as to preclude materials which accurately represent the customs, morals, manners, culture, or society of a different time or a different place.

III. Procedure for Selection

A. Material purchased for media centers and classrooms shall be recommended for purchase by licensed employees in consultation with administrative staff, school library staff, students or an ad hoc committee as appointed by the Board. The material recommended for purchase shall be approved by the appropriate building administrator.

1. The materials selected shall support stated objectives and goals of the school district. Specifically, the goals are:

a. To acquire materials and provide service consistent with the demands of the curriculum;

b. To develop students’ skills and resourcefulness in the use of media centers and learning resources;

c. To effectively guide and counsel students in the selection and use of materials and media centers;

d. To foster in students a wide range of significant interests;

e. To provide opportunities for aesthetic experiences and development of an appreciation of the fine arts;

f. To provide materials to motivate students to examine their own attitudes and behaviors and to comprehend their own duties and responsibilities as citizens in a pluralistic democracy;

g. To encourage life-long education through the use of the library; and,

h. To work cooperatively and constructively with the instructional and administrative staff in the school.

2. Materials selected shall be consistent with stated principles of selection. These principles are:

a. To select material, within established standards of the school district;

b. To consider the educational characteristics of the community in the selection of materials within a given category;

c. To present the sexual, racial, religious and ethnic groups in society by:

1. Portraying people, both men and women, adults and children, whatever their ethnic, religious or social class identity, as human and recognizable, displaying a familiar range of emotions, both negative and positive.

2. Placing no constraints on individual aspirations and opportunity.

3. Giving comprehensive, accurate, and balanced representation to minority groups and women – in art and science, history and literature, and in all other fields of life and culture.

d. To intelligently, quickly, and effectively anticipate and meet needs through awareness of subjects of local, national and international interest and significance; and,

e. To strive for impartiality in the selection process.

      3. The materials selected shall meet stated selection criteria. These criteria are:

          a. Authority-Author’s qualifications – education, experience, and previously published works;

          b. Reliability:

1. Accuracy-meaningful organization and emphasis on content, meets the material’s goals and objectives, and presents authoritative and realistic factual material.

2. Current-presentation of content which is consistent with the finding of recent and authoritative research.

          c. Treatment of subject-shows an objective reflection for the multi-ethnic character and cultural diversity of society.

          d. Language -

1. Vocabulary –

a. Does not indicate bias by the use of words which may result in negative value judgments about groups of people;

b. Does not use "man" or similar limiting word usage in generalization or ambiguities which may cause women to feel excluded or dehumanized.

2. Compatible to the reading level of the student for whom it is intended.

e. Format -

1. Book –

                   a. Adequate and accurate index;

                   b. Paper of good quality and color;

                   c. Print adequate and well spaced;

                   d. Adequate margins;

                   e. Firmly bound; and,

                   f. Cost.

               2. Non-book, including software and electronically available materials –

                  a. Flexibility, adaptability;

                  b. Curricular orientation of significant interest to students;

                  c. Appropriate for audience;

                  d. Accurate authoritative presentation;

                 e. Good production qualities (fidelity, aesthetically adequate);

                 f. Durability; and,

                 g. Cost.

             3. Illustrations of book and non-book materials should:

a. Depict instances of fully integrated grouping and settings to indicate equal status and non-segregated social relationships.

b. Make clearly apparent the identity of minorities;

c. Contain pertinent and effective illustrations;

4. Flexible to enable the teacher to use parts at a time and not follow a comprehensive instructional program on a rigid frame of reference.

f.  Special Features -

1. Bibliographies.

          2. Glossary.

          3. Current charts, maps, etc.

          4. Visual aids.

          5. Index.

          6. Special activities to stimulate and challenge students.

          7. Provide a variety of learning skills.

g. Potential use:

1. Will it meet the requirement of reference work?

2. Will it help students with personal problems and adjustments?

3. Will it serve as a source of information for teachers and librarians?

4. Does it offer an understanding of cultures other than the student's own and is it free of racial, religious, age, disability, ethnic, and sexual stereotypes?

5. Will it expand students' sphere of understanding and help them to understand the ideas and beliefs of others?

6. Will it help students and teachers keep abreast of and understand current events?

7. Will it foster and develop hobbies and special interests?

8. Will it help develop aesthetic tastes and appreciation?

9. Will it serve the needs of students with special needs?

10. Does it inspire learning?

11. Is it relevant to the subject?

12. Will it stimulate a student's interest?

4. Gifts of library or instructional materials may be accepted if the gift meets existing criteria for library and instructional materials. The acceptance and placement of such gifts is within the discretion of the board.

5. In order to provide a current, highly usable collection of materials. teacher-librarians will ensure constant and continuing renewal of the collection, not only the addition of up-to-date materials, but by the judicious elimination of materials which no longer meet school district needs or find use. The process of reviewing and eliminating instructional materials will be done according to established and accepted standards for determining the relevance and value of materials in a given context.


Approved: 11/14/67                     Reviewed: 5/13/19                        Revised: 1/10/11; 6/10/13

604.2 Objection to Instructional Materials

Members of the school district community may object to the instructional materials utilized in the school district and ask for their use to be reconsidered.


Approved: 8/13/67

Reviewed: 5/13/19

Revised: 1/10/11; 6/10/13

604.3 Reconsideration of Instructional Materials

A. A member of the school district community may raise an objection to instructional materials used in the school district's education program despite the fact that the individuals selecting such material were duly qualified to make the selection and followed the proper procedure and observed the criteria for selecting such material.

1. The school official or employee receiving a complaint regarding instructional materials will try to resolve the issue informally. The materials generally will remain in use pending the outcome of the reconsideration procedure.

a. The school official or employee initially receiving a complaint will explain to the individual the board's selection procedure, criteria to be met by the instructional materials, and qualifications of those persons selecting the material.

b. The school official or employee initially receiving a complaint will explain to the individual the role of the objected material in the education program, its intended educational purpose, and additional information regarding its use. In the alternative, the employee may refer the individual to the teacher-librarian who can identify and explain the use of the material.

2. The employee receiving the initial complaint will advise the building principal of the initial contact no later than the end of the school day following the discussion with the individual, whether or not the individual has been satisfied by the initial contact. A written record of the contact is maintained by the principal in charge of the attendance center. Each building principal shall inform employees of their obligation to report complaints.

3. In the event the individual making an objection to instructional materials is not satisfied with the initial explanation, the individual is referred to the principal or to the teacher-librarian of the attendance center. If, after consultation with the principal or teacher-librarian, the individual desires to file a formal complaint, the principal or teacher-librarian will assist in filling out a Reconsideration Request Form in full and filing it with the superintendent.

B. Request for Reconsideration

1. A member of the school district community may formally challenge instructional materials on the basis of appropriateness used in the school district's education program. This procedure is for the purpose of considering the opinions of those persons in the school district and the community who are not directly involved in the selection process.

2. Each attendance center and the school district office will keep on hand and make available Reconsideration Request Forms. Formal objections to instructional materials must be made on this form.

3. The individual will state the specific reason the instructional material is being challenged. The Reconsideration Request Form is signed by the individual and filed with the superintendent.

4. The superintendent will promptly file the objection with the reconsideration committee for re-evaluation.

5. Generally, access to challenged instructional material will not be restricted during the reconsideration process. However, in unusual circumstances, the instructional material may be removed temporarily by following the provisions of Section B.6.d. of this rule.

6. The Reconsideration Committee

a. The reconsideration committee is made up of eight members.

1. One licensed employee designated annually, as needed, by the superintendent.

2. One teacher-librarian designated annually by the superintendent.

3. One member of the administrative team designated annually by the superintendent.

4. Three members of the community appointed annually, as needed, by the board.

5. Two high school students, selected annually by the high school principal.

b. The committee will select their chairperson and secretary.

c. The committee will meet at the request of the superintendent.

d. Special meetings may be called by the board to consider temporary removal of materials in unusual circumstances. A recommendation for temporary removal will require a two-thirds vote of the committee.

e. Notice of committee meetings is made public through appropriate publications and other communications methods.

f. The committee will receive the completed Reconsideration Request Form from the superintendent.

g. The committee will determine its agenda for the first meeting which may include the following:

          1. Distribution of copies of the completed Reconsideration Request Form.

          2. An opportunity for the individual or a group spokesperson to talk about or expand on the Reconsideration Request Form.

          3. Distribution of reputable, professionally prepared reviews of the challenged instructional material if available.

          4. Distribution of copies of the challenged instructional material as available.

h. The committee may review the selection process for the challenged instructional material and may, to its satisfaction, determine that the challenge is without merit and dismiss the challenge. The committee will notify the individual and the superintendent of its action.

i. At a subsequent meeting, if held, interested persons, including the individual filing the challenge, may have the opportunity to share their views. The committee may request that individuals with special knowledge be present to give information to the committee.

j. The individual filing the challenge is kept informed by the reconsideration committee secretary on the status of the Reconsideration Request Form throughout the reconsideration process. The individual filing the challenge and known interested parties is given appropriate notice of meetings.

k. At the second or a subsequent meeting the committee will make its final recommendation. The committee's final recommendation may be to take no removal action, to remove the challenged material from the school environment, or to limit the educational use of the challenged material. The sole criterion for the final recommendation is the appropriateness of the material for its intended educational use. The written final recommendation and its justification are forwarded to the board, the individual and the appropriate attendance centers. The superintendent my also make a recommendation but if so, it should be independent from the committee's.  Following the superintendent's decision with respect to the committee's recommendation, the individual or the chairperson of the reconsideration committee may appeal the decision to the board for review. Such appeal must be presented to the superintendent in writing within five days following the announcement of the superintendent's decision. The board will promptly determine whether to hear the appeal.

l. A recommendation to sustain a challenge will not be interpreted as a judgment of irresponsibility on the part of the individuals involved in the original selection or use of the material.

m.  Requests to reconsider materials which have previously been reconsidered by the committee must receive approval of two-thirds of the committee members before the materials will again be reconsidered.

n. If necessary or appropriate in the judgment of the committee, the committee may appoint a subcommittee of members or nonmembers to consolidate challenges and to make recommendations to the full committee. The composition of this subcommittee will approximate the representation of the full committee.

o. Committee members directly associated with the selection, use, or challenger of the challenged material are excused from the committee during the deliberation of the challenged instructional materials. The superintendent may appoint a temporary replacement for the excused committee member, but the replacement must be of the same general qualifications as the member excused.

p. Persons dissatisfied with the decision of the board may appeal to the Iowa Board of Education pursuant to state law.


Approved: 8/13/67                Reviewed:  5/13/19                                 Revised: 1/10/11; 6/10/13

604.3E1 Reconsideration of Instructional Materials Request Form

REVIEW INITIATED BY:                                                    DATE: __________________

Name __________________________________________________________________

Address _________________________________________________________________

City/State _______________________ Zip Code ___________ Telephone ___________

School(s) in which item is used _______________________________________________

Relationship to school (parent, student, citizen, etc.) ______________________________



Author _______________________ Hardcover _____ Paperback ______ Other _______

Title ____________________________________________________________________

Publisher (if known) ________________________________________________________

Date of Publication _________________________________________________________



Title ____________________________________________________________________

Producer (if known) ________________________________________________________

Type of material (filmstrip, motion picture, etc.) __________________________________


Self Group or Organization

Name of Group or Organization _________________________________________

Address of Group or Organization ________________________________________


1. What brought this item to your attention?



2. To what in the item do you object? (please be specific; cite pages, or frames, etc.)



3. In your opinion, what harmful effects upon students might result from use of this item?



4. Do you perceive any instructional value in the use of this item?



5. Did you review the entire item? If not, what sections did you review?



6. Should the opinion of any additional experts in the field be considered?

Yes _______________ No ______________

If yes, please list specific suggestions: ___________________________________


7. To replace this item, do you recommend other material which you consider to be of equal

or superior quality for the purpose intended?



8. Do you wish to make an oral presentation to the Review Committee?

Yes _______________                      

(a)  Please contact the Superintendent

(b)Please be prepared at this time to indicate the approximate length of time your presentation will require. Although this is no guarantee that you'll be allowed to present to the committee, or that you will get your requested amount of time.

Minutes. __________________________

No _______________

__________________________________________ ________________________ Signature Dated

604.3E2 Sample Letter to Individual Challenging Instructional Materials


We recognize your concern about the use of ___________________________ in our school district. The school district has developed procedures for selection of instructional materials but realizes that not everyone will agree with every selection made.

To help you understand the selection process, we are sending copies of the school district's:

1. Instructional goals and objectives,

2. Instructional materials selection policy statement, and

3. Procedure for reconsideration of instructional materials.

If you are still concerned after you review this material, please complete the Reconsideration Request Form and return it to me. You may be assured of prompt attention to your request. If I have not heard from you within one week, we will assume you no longer wish to file a formal complaint.