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School board removes book from reading list due to profanity
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kenny Howell

Managing Editor

The School board removed an award-winning book from their reading lists due to profanity Monday. 

The issue was brought up by School Board member Wayne McNeese, who had spoken about his objection to the profanity in the book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon in meetings before. He was troubled that it was on the preferred reading lists because it contains profanity. 

“It’s repulsive,” said McNeese of the language. 

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, released in 2003, is about a 15-year-old boy named Christopher who has an autism spectrum condition. When his neighbor’s dog turns up dead, he starts to investigate what happened to him. The book is told from his point of view, so it  shows how someone with the condition’s thought process works. 

The book won the Whitbread Book Award for Best Book, the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book, and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. Interim Director of Schools Mary Ann Sparks mentioned that the book is held in high esteem for its great literary merit.

“Maybe in New York City,” said McNeese. “Not in Wilson County, Tennessee.”

School Board member Ron Britt said that he understood McNeese’s concerns and agreed that the profanity troubled him, but he liked to defer to the teachers on what they think should be taught. Sparks was concerned of the precedent it set to remove the book. 

“Where do you stop,” said Sparks. She said some things might offend some people, and other things might offend others. 

Mt. Juliet High School Assistant Principal Scott Walters, who is the AP Coordinator as well, assured McNeese that the book was not required reading. The preferred reading lists do have the books marked that could offend some people, and what about them makes it offensive. Walters said he would be fine with his children reading the book. McNeese said he still doesn’t think the school system should send the message that they condone this kind of language. 

Student School Board Member Sam Anasky from Lebanon High School spoke up in her remarks about a book that affected her, that also had rough language. She read “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. It is about a young boy growing up in Afghanistan. She got emotional when talking about how much it meant to her. 

“If I hadn’t read that book, I wouldn’t be who I am,” said Anasky. On speaking of the language used in the book, Anasky stated, “that’s reality, man.”

The board voted 3-1 to eliminate the book from any reading lists. McNeese, Don Weathers and Bill Robinson all voted to remove it. Britt voted to keep it. 

In other business, the school board voted to eliminate four teaching positions. Two were at Wilson Central High School and two were at Lebanon High School. Sparks said that they will try to find the people filling the positions a new place in the school system, but was unsure if it would be possible.