By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — A book some argued was inappropriate for classrooms was given approval by a nine-person review committee following a special meeting held Feb. 28.
“The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls is part of the Marshfield School District’s curriculum and is required reading in 10th-grade English classes.
The book came under scrutiny for its strong language and explicit situations when Dan Alsides addressed the school board during its December meeting.
“My oldest son read it last year after my wife read a couple of chapters of it, and it was OK,” said Alsides. “After hearing complaints over the summer, I decided to read the book myself. I found it very disturbing and very hard to get through. The book is full of foul language and explicit and disturbing material.
“I realize that some kids these days are exposed to some bad language and this material in social media, but I don’t think we need to have it during class requirement.”
Frances Bohon, chair of the school district’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee, said use of “The Glass Castle” would then be re-evaluated.
“We actually had a formal complaint,” explained Bohon. “The issue was language and ideas put forth in the book by with someone with addictions and some mental illness.”
The book was then subject to a review process outlined in the district’s policies.
“This district, as with all public school districts, have a policy on complaints, especially complaints that involve curriculum materials or instructional review,” said Marshfield School District Superintendent Dee Wells. “So we’ve been following our policy, and within our policy the curriculum director or the director of teaching and learning can make a recommendation to the superintendent as to whether or not to call a committee to review the book.”
A nine-person committee was formed from the community and district staff, whose purpose was to review the book and provide a recommendation to the superintendent.
During the committee’s review, Library and Media Specialist Linda Hamann said, “In all of these sources, it is reviewed as a book written for adults, and in the school leading journals, it is listed as an adult book with young adult appeal where it’s listed as a high school grade level suggestion.
“The reviews were fairly consistent across the board. Most of them used words like ‘shocking,’ ‘sad,’ ‘There is content in this book that is rather out of mainstream and yet has some literary merit.’”
The panel ultimately decided to keep “The Glass Castle” as part of the school’s curriculum.
According to school policy, the recommendation is then delivered to the school superintendent, who will advise the complainant of the committee’s recommendation and advise the school board on any action. The complainant may appeal that recommendation.