Titles remain the same on district's book list -- for now


The Mirror

While there is apparent confusion whether the Federal Way School Board must vote on a book list students read from, it is — at this point — unchanged from last school year.

“I think they’re okay with it,” said Karen Dickinson, director of the school district’s secondary curriculum and instruction, of the list containing about 400 books.

During a meeting Aug. 2, the board asked for a legal opinion from the district’s attorney whether the board must vote. At least one board member said the attorney has agreed, via e-mail, that a vote is required.

The list runs for several pages, is separated by grades and contains a synopsis for each book. Some books overlap grade levels, Dickinson said. Many of the books are taught in English or literature classes.

The books students read are getting a closer look from the board after a parent objected to “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress” being taught in a freshman class at Todd Beamer High School earlier this year. The parent pulled her son from the class because she thought lines describing sex and a young woman’s breasts were inappropriate.

Superintendent Tom Murphy chose to remove the book from the ninth-grade reading list, but allowed it for older students.

Board member Charles Hoff said an e-mail from attorney Buzz Porter stated the board needed to vote. However, board member Bob Millen read the message to mean the board did not have to vote. Another board member, Earl VanDorien Jr., had not seen the attorney’s message, but said it was his interpretation of state law during the meeting the board had to vote.

The item is not on the board’s agenda for an upcoming meeting on Aug. 10. Porter was not available for comment at press time.

Millen added he thought the issue was distracting the

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