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SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO : Plan for Schoolbook Objection Considered

Parents who have complaints about books used in the Capistrano Unified School District will soon have a way to formally voice their displeasure.

A proposed policy, considered by the school district board this week, requires that parents first notify their child’s principal about concerns. If that doesn’t resolve the complaint, a parent then could make a written complaint, which would be forwarded to the district office.

If necessary the district superintendent would appoint a reviewing committee, made up of five members, including a district administrator, the district librarian, a school-site administrator, teacher and parent. The parent would not be selected from the school where the complaint was lodged.

Trustees said on Monday that they wanted a few wording changes made in the proposed policy so parents would not feel discouraged from appealing any administrative decisions to the board.

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Trustees also said they didn’t think the policy would be used by parents to attack books or other materials they deem offensive. In the past, parents in the district have objected to materials about AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

Lois Anderson, president of the district teachers union, told trustees she was concerned that the policy could become a tool for a small but vocal group of parents intent on steering teachers away from using potentially controversial books.

Anderson said such tactics could result in an “unofficial censorship” because teachers might avoid using certain materials altogether rather than take on the extra burden of assigning and grading alternate work for students whose parents ask to have them excused from regular assignments.

But Trustee Marlene Draper said, “I don’t feel we are going to get into any major problems.”

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The policy is expected to be back before the board next month.


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