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Park City parents upset by assigned reading

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Aug 27th, 2013 @ 5:44pm

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PARK CITY— Some parents of high school students in Park City are expressing anger over their children's summer reading assignment.

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" was required reading for all students at Park City High School this summer. The author, Sherman Alexie, won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature for the book, which is semi-autobiographical.

The story is told by a Native American character, Arnold Spirit, Jr., who talks about his life on the Spokane Indian Reservation and decides to go to an all-white public high school.

Parents said this book contains explicit material and students had no other option but to read it, but after a meeting last Tuesday with district officials and teachers, they learned there actually were other reading options available they just didn't know about it.

When a small group of parents voiced their concern at the meeting they said they are very upset about the content, which includes profanity, sexually explicit descriptions, alcoholism and bullying. They said they did not understand why this book was chosen.

District leaders said they could have prevented the reaction, but parents should have contacted teachers immediately because there were other reading options. They said they will make that clearer next year.

"Looking at our policy, looking at our federal guidelines, looking at the Utah FERPA law, we have to make sure that the details are in everything we do," Park City School District Superintendent Ember Conley said. "Because they (the alternate books) were stated verbally but in the paperwork they weren't there, so we've learned."

The superintendent also said the district wants all parents to know that they may volunteer to become a member of the book selection committee.


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