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Once-banned book will stay in Rocklin High library, district decides

Published: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

A book that was briefly banned at Rocklin High School will remain in the library following the release of a district committee's report Friday.

The Rocklin Unified committee was charged with reviewing a mother's request to remove Stephen King's "Different Seasons" from the high school library because of what the parent said was a graphic rape scene in the book.

Rocklin High School formed a committee at the beginning of the school year to review the book and determine whether it was appropriate. That committee voted to remove the book, prompting the lone dissenter, Rocklin High student Amanda Wong, to take her concerns about censorship to the school district.

Rocklin Unified Superintendent Kevin Brown overturned the high school committee's decision in October, saying the call should have been made by a committee of districtwide representatives.

Brown said Friday that the districtwide committee's findings are final, although "if the complaining party wishes to appeal the findings, they can take it to the next level and it goes to the (school) board."

The district committee's report will be presented at Wednesday's board meeting. The committee was made up of two principals, a librarian, a district director, two English teachers and a Whitney High School student.

"The committee, in looking at a broader scope and having more time to reflect on the concerns of the parent and do more research, came to a conclusion that I certainly support and I know the board will as well," Brown said.

Wong said she was relieved and excited to know the book would remain in the library. She said her concerns went beyond the availability of one book. She said there needed to be more oversight and community involvement regarding decisions that limit a student's access to literature.

Wong said she was particularly concerned that there were representatives on the first committee that banned "Different Seasons" who had not read the entire four-story novella, which includes "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption," "The Body" and "A Winter's Tale." Three stories were adapted into the movies – "The Shawshank Redemption," "Stand By Me" ("The Body") and "Apt Pupil."

The 1 1/2-page rape scene that prompted the parent's concerns were in the story "Apt Pupil."

Members of the districtwide committee noted in their report that they read the novella.

Stories of Rocklin's push to ban the book were picked up by media across the nation, prompting many readers to voice support for Wong.

"I was overwhelmed by the support I got in the community, even from people I didn't know," Wong said. "It was inspiring."

The districtwide committee noted in its report that "Different Seasons" is on the California Department of Education's Recommended Literature List.

"If one parent is able to ban a book based on his or her opinion, then the same will go for any other parent," said Whitney High student Soulee Matos, the student representative on the districtwide committee.

"Therefore, the content of the libraries will greatly diminish over time until the subject matter becomes basic and unrealistic," Matos said in the report. "As a student, I consider that a threat to my education."

Brown, the district's superintendent, said the entire experience has been a great learning opportunity for those involved.

"I'm extremely proud of Amanda Wong for her bringing it to the trustees and her courageousness to take an opposing point of view," Brown said. "This is a good time to reflect and review our policies and protocols."

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Read more articles by Melody Gutierrez

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