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Rocklin Unified to ban a book?

King story collection could be removed from shelves
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Placer Herald editor
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A Rocklin High School senior made an impassioned plea to her school district last week after she learned a book could possibly be removed from the library.

The book in question is “Different Seasons,” a collection of four stories by famed novelist Stephen King, who published the book in 1982. Among the stories are two upon which the films “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Stand by Me” were based.

But the story called into question by a parent is “Apt Pupil,” about a boy who befriends a Nazi war criminal in hiding. The book contains a graphic rape scene, which student Amanda Wong said was the reason the book could be banned.

“I think that banning this book would be just tragic, I think, to the whole education system in general,” said Wong, arguing that the book should be evaluated as a whole, not just on the basis of one story.

Rocklin Unified School District Kevin Brown informed the board and audience at the Oct. 3 meeting that in this situation, the process is that a committee is put together to review the materials.

Rocklin High School Principal David Bills said after the complaint, a committee was formed at the site level to review the book.

“The committee’s decision was that portion of it that was graphic was not appropriate, and so the book was removed from our library,” he said.

Bills and Brown said Monday that the site committee was not the correct way to follow protocol, a move Bills said was his error. Now, in keeping with district policy, a committee will be formed that includes administration and staff from Rocklin, Whitney and Victory high schools, allowing for district-wide consideration of the book.

“We’ll give the parent the opportunity to re-present their concerns,” Brown said, “and review it under board guidelines and criteria, and make a determination whether or not to allow it to stay in the library, put it on a restricted reading list or remove it from the library.”

The book, at this point, has not been removed from any district library, Bills said.

Brown said he could recall few other incidents in which a book was considered for removal, all at the elementary school level.

“I don’t believe we’ve ever banned a book,” he said. “There have been two, maybe three complaints about books, but I don’t believe we’ve ever taken one out of the library.”

“As a student who loves the library, I’m asking you here today not to ban ‘Different Seasons’ by Stephen King,” Wong said at the RUSD? board meeting. “Yes, there’s graphic material. Yes, some deem it inappropriate. However, I ask you to let that decision be up to the students and up to their families.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at krissik@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter, @ThePlacerHerald.