Subject: RCAS Response to Questions on Books
To Whom It May Concern;
Neither Board President Kate Thomas, nor any other board member, were involved in the vetting or approval of the books in question for use in the English 12 class. Nor was any Board member involved in the decision to remove those books. School and district administration made that decision because they determined that the content was explicitly inappropriate for students. Three of the books were sent to the warehouse in August, two more were identified for removal later in the fall.
Rapid City Area Schools Instructional Council is a standing committee that is comprised of the Director of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation; The Assistant Superintendent; the three high school principals; three members of the Board of Education; Curriculum Specialists; two elementary and one middle school principal. Additionally, a few teachers, a counselor, a library media specialist, and parents (if available) serve. The Directors of Special Services, Federal Programs & Grants, Strategic Partnerships and College & Career Readiness also attend meetings when agenda items affect their office.
The purpose of the Instructional Council is to serve in an advisory capacity and meet throughout the school year to review information about major curriculum, instruction, and assessment initiatives. The Instructional Council makes recommendations to the Superintendent’s Office to forward to the Board of Education for consideration of the following items:
- Curriculum adoptions for the implementation of new standards
- Course registration handbooks
- Graduation Requirements
As you will see in the attached presentation that was given to the Instructional Council on December 15, 2020, there was information provided regarding the rationale for the English 12 course, and the units of study contained within the course. You will also notice on slide 13, the staffing of English 12 occurred in the spring of 2021, after which teachers reviewed their books and instructional resources for purchase. Clearly, the Instructional Council approved the course English 12 and its units of study, but they did not approve the booklists. As the Director of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation, Valerie Brablec Seales serves as the chair for this committee and oversees the curriculum specialists that facilitate teacher teams throughout the district conducting curriculum review.
The committee that worked to create the units of study for English 12 and the teachers that selected materials are not the same, however, no teachers were removed from either committee. The names of the staff members who worked on the units of study for English 12 are as follows: Colby Christensen- curriculum specialist, Sean Bradley, Stevens HS, Timmi Bubac, Stevens HS, Jeff Fierro, Stevens HS, Liz Hogan, Rapid City HS, Christine Pulaski-Didriksen, Central HS. It should be noted that no minutes were recorded at the December 15 meeting. Lesson plans are not collected by the administration; therefore, we are working to collect lesson plans from teachers and will forward that information once received and reviewed for information that is not subject to disclosure. All syllabi are currently being updated to include book lists and will be posted on the high school websites for fall of 2022.
It has been a long-standing process in the Rapid City Area Schools that booklists are selected by teachers for the courses they teach with support from a curriculum specialist. By stating that, no one is blaming teachers, rather, merely stating the current process. We are examining our policies and practices and having conversations about revision of our policies and procedures to include district oversight. We are also reviewing and discussing what will be done with the books that have been removed.
Community Relations Manager
Phone: 605-394-4091 (office)
Address: 625 9th Street, Suite 213
Rapid City, SD 57701