Highland Park ISD Reverses Suspension On Seven Books | KERA News

Highland Park ISD Reverses Suspension On Seven Books

Sep 29, 2014

The Highland Park school district has reversed its decision to suspend seven books from the classroom after parents had concerns about sex, abortion and rape references. 

Highland Park Independent School District Superintendent Dawson Orr apologized for the disruption on Sunday night.

Orr says he decided earlier this month to suspend the seven titles that came under question by hundreds of parents. He says he acted in an attempt to de-escalate the conflict but his decision had the opposite effect.

"I think it makes perfect sense to acknowledge that it wasn’t successful," Orr told KERA. "I thought I had the discretion to make a decision I felt was in the best interest of the district."

Other parents and students challenged the ban on books including The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls, about growing up in poverty, and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.

One book, The Art of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein, is still being challenged, but will be allowed in the classroom. That book was on the fall syllabus, and some classes were already in the middle of it when the suspension was first announced. Orr expects that teachers will resume teaching with the book.

“We have asked English teachers to be sure that they are prepared to offer alternative [options] to parents who request that choice,” he said. 

Orr says the district will work to provide greater transparency and inclusion of all viewpoints on its literature review committee. 

This isn’t the first time that the district and parents have had a conflict over books.

During the summer, parents asked for more transparency over how the district determined which books were appropriate for students. This school year was the first time Highland Park made its approved book list public.  

Catch up on KERA's coverage of the Highland Park book matter. Here's the initial story.

"It was a little baffling," Stein told KERA about his book being pulled from Highland Park ISD classrooms. Read his interview with KERA here.