Culture war debates over what’s appropriate for library shelves put a rural South Carolina school district in the national spotlight, as a Moms for Liberty book challenge escalated into a legislator’s calls for the state to investigate and fire employees.

The Department of Education isn’t commenting on whether an inquiry even exists.

But it has sought the Legislature’s approval for a regulation that would create a standard policy for challenging books in South Carolina’s schools and give the State Board of Education final say over parents’ complaints.

The House could take up and OK the regulation Thursday. But with only four legislative days left in the session, it’s not expected to go any further this year.

The two GOP House members representing Anderson One School District have urged for passage as they await the outcome of an investigation they say is underway.

How Anderson became national news

The issue exploded after the Anderson County branch of Moms for Liberty, a conservative parental rights group founded in Florida, sent out a news release in late February highlighting portions of emails Anderson One provided in response to a public records request.

The release quoted school librarians complaining in emails about Moms for Liberty.

In one from March 2022, a librarian was explaining to a teacher — who was trying to find a book — that she’d taken the library catalog offline “so parents can’t scour it for critical race theory books (sigh).”

Five months later, she wrote, “I still don’t have my catalog visible to the public — we removed those links, right?”

“I think mine goes straight to the log in page as well (if I did it right),” another librarian responds.

Rep. Thomas Beach, R-Piedmont, wrote to state Superintendent Ellen Weaver, saying the records showed a “coverup” by public employees.