PROSPER, Texas—When a group of activists earlier this year demanded that the local school district pull more than 80 books from library shelves, claiming evidence of obscenity on many pages, the move sparked months of discord in this North Texas community.

One mother, part of a largely conservative group, urged the sheriff to launch a criminal probe of the district. Some liberal-minded parents criticized both the group’s push and the district’s response. The issue spilled into school-board races.

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