The McPherson school board voted Monday to convene a committee to evaluate the appropriateness of the book “The Glass Castle.”
The memoir by Jeanette Walls is being taught in Cindy Marion’s pre-AP English course taken by freshmen at McPherson High School. It is an account of Walls’ years growing up in poverty with a dysfunctional family.
Ninety-five students are in the course.
Parents spoke to the board Monday with concerns the book, which they said has foul language and implicit and explicit sexual references, is inappropriate for 14- and 15-yeard-old students.
“My daughter came to me and said, ‘Mom, the language in this book is not the best,’” Lynn Black, parent, said. “She actually described the plot to me, and there were passages that I thought were too mature for her as a student.”
Black said she and her husband were forced to have a conversation with her daughter she was hoping not to have for awhile.
“I am trying not to be angry, but what my daughter has been exposed to ... you can’t bring her innocence back,” Black said.
Parent Emily Kynaston said she did not think the book was appropriate for freshmen.
“There is a lot of bad language and very graphic explanations of the situations she was in,” she said.
Kynaston said the damage was done but she asked the board to make assurances something like this would not happen again.
Board member Chris Wiens said she has read the book and did not think it was appropriate for freshmen.
“I think we need to do something,” she said.
Superintendent Randy Watson said the district allows all families to opt their children out of any assignment, and the parents on hand could ask for an alternate reading assignment for their children.
The district policy states a book can be reviewed by a committee to be removed from the curriculum. He said the committee would take about 30 days to make its findings.
In the meantime, a letter was sent out Monday to all the parents of the children in Marion’s course.
Angie McDonald, director of instruction, said Marion had discovered the book after seeing a lecture by Walls in Hutchinson. This is the second year Marion has used the book in her course.
Walls’ book was on a recommended reading list for young adults. It received the Christopher Award, the American Library Association’s Alex Award and the Books for Better Living Award. It was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 261 weeks.
McDonald said in her research, she has found nowhere where the book has been banned.