West Linn librarian in trouble for using profanity in class

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on December 8, 2009 at 9:30 AM

Some parents of West Linn middle school students are angry that their children were exposed to vulgar language by their teacher. They shared their frustrations with the school board Monday night.

The parents told the school board that they were never asked or even told that their children’s librarian was going to write and use profanity as part of a lesson on controversial books.

However, when they heard what happened afterwards, from their 8th grade children, the upset parents said they were furious and in disbelief. They said the teacher exposed their kids to more than a dozen curse words.

“There was the “F-word” written on the board. The teacher yelled them at the kids and then asked the kids to yell them back at him," said parent Elizabeth Thiede. She also explained that her child was upset by the display that was apparently carried out as part of a language arts unit at Athey Creek Middle School.

For nearly 10 years, the school has discussed banned and controversial books as part of a successful First Ammendment curriculum. But never before has profanity been used in such a way, school district officials admitted.

"I didn't believe it, to tell you the truth. It had to have been exagerated a little bit. But then after talking to other parents whose children were in those classes on Monday, it was quite apparent that it was indeed an actual occurance," said parent Pamela Alarcon.

A spokesperson for the district confirmed that the event happened but disputed that the children were ever required to repeat the words aloud. Thayne Balzer said the librarian’s lesson was inappropriate and included language that was not approved by administrators.

In a letter to parents obtained by KGW, Principal Carol Egan said, “It was meant to provoke student understanding and experience how words, taken out of context, can lose their significance.”

While the district would not discuss what if any punishment might come to the Athey Creek librarian, the school board did issue an apology.

"The way it was approached was not keeping with the values of the district. I think we all agree with that and we're very sorry it was handled this way,” said School Board Chairman Jeff Hallin.

Board members were careful to point out that they were not apologizing for the banned and controversial book curriculum, just the particular way it was presented. They said this will not happen again.

 

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