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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco superintendent will not ban challenged novel in all schools

A review committee's proposal to remove Stephen Chbosky's novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower from Pasco Middle School will stand, but only for that school, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe told the Gradebook.

"Their recommendation said remove it from all schools," Cobbe said Wednesday. Superintendent Kurt Browning's "recommendation is to be to remove it from Pasco Middle School. The other schools can keep it."

Four high schools that have the 1999 title took it out of circulation pending the outcome of a challenge at Pasco Middle. Some parents there complained about the book's graphic sexual content, after a long-term substitute teacher assigned it to a seventh-grade advanced language arts class.

Principal Jeff Wolff said no one at the school had read the book before purchasing it, or before assigning it. He agreed with the committee that the book had no place in his school.

Shauna Hutsell, who filed the formal complaint, said she was happy with the committee's decision. But she added that she might appeal to the district if the book remains on school shelves, saying "no other kids should be getting this book."

During a meeting late Tuesday, administrators discussed the issue of whether one school's materials review panel may make decisions with district-wide implications, Cobbe said.

"We are going to make it more clear and more tight, so there's no question if it's a school-level challenge it applies only to that school," she said. 

They also plan to require that any books that don't appear on the district's list of approved titles go through a review process before it can be bought. Officials are consulting with Pinellas and Hillsborough schools on how they handle book challenges for additional ideas.

Cobbe said the administration has not talked about how to handle teachers who assign materials that they have not read in advance.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 2:02pm]


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