Walker said Ambridge High School students in the ninth grade honors communications class were also required to read the book out loud and had to answer questions from assigned pages.
“I want you to know what my daughter has to go through in class,” said Walker of Ambridge.
Keyona Walker said even after she addressed the offensive material with school officials, her daughter came home Wednesday with more school work and was told to continue to read the book. She told the board the book, a 2005 memoir authored by Jeannette Walls, should be removed from the course.
The autobiographical memoir that brings attention to issues of poverty and family dysfunction, was banned from a high school in Dallas, Texas after several complaints from parents. A high school in Michigan also banned the book after parents complained of “explicit language and references to child molestation, adolescent sexual exploits, and violence.”
“There is no reason we should have these words in their studies,” Keyona Walker said.
School board president MC Knafelc, a retired teacher, said she was only made aware of the issue Wednesday night and was trying to ascertain if the book was on an approved reading list and how it got in the curriculum.
“I don’t know if things are said in the book to show how ignorant the people are…I will definitely look into this,” she said.
Neither the teacher nor the principal was present.
Mark Kuritzky of Economy said he isn’t in the habit of book burning, but suggested the board call the teacher that night to suspend those lessons until the administration had time to investigate the purpose of the book.
“It’s never been right, and it’s certainly not right in these times today,” Kuritzky said.
School Director Rob Keber motioned to suspend the use of the book, which director Kim Locher seconded, until an investigation could be conducted. None of the board members were opposed.
The board directed administrators to take action on an investigation. Superintendent Cynthia Zurchin was not present at the meeting. Barry King, director of special programs, agreed to call the teacher Wednesday night.
“I think that’s the best thing that can be done,” Keber said.
Solicitor Christian Bareford said the board has the ability to request that students not proceed with this particular assignment until administrators can conduct an investigation.