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December 10, 2012

TCAPS board votes against memoir's removal

TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education rejected a recommendation to remove a memoir from the freshman honors English summer reading list.

Board President Kelly Hall cast the tie-breaking roll call vote against removal of the book.

Hall said she feared removing Jeannette Walls’ “The Glass Castle” from the reading list  could have a chilling effect on the district’s willingness to use potentially controversial material, regardless of its educational merit. She also read the book and found it both enjoyable and appropriate.

“I wish I was assigned this book as a ninth-grader,” Hall said.

Board members Gary Appel, Megan Crandall and Scott Hardy voted with Hall.

TCAPS officials began reviewing the title after parents Heather and Jeff Campbell filed a formal complaint with the district.

Both the board’s Curriculum Committee and a committee formed to address the Campbells' complaint said the book was not appropriate for a summer assignment. The memoir includes references to child molestation, sex and violence.

Jeff Campbell was disappointed in the board’s decision, but he said his initial complaint still served a purpose.

“I just hope it brings awareness to parents. They need to be aware of what their kids are reading,” he said.

Associate Superintendent Jayne Mohr said the board’s vote ended the district’s review of the material.

English and language arts steering committees at the district’s high schools can assign “The Glass Castle,” as required reading for students.

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