School board won’t change “inappropriate” curriculum

CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Despite a letter writing campaign by the wife of a Clarence School Board member, the board was strongly opposed to changing any of the chosen materials, even if some of it has swear words or deals with sensitive topics.

The letter, written by Ginger Lahti last month, questions material she found “inappropriate” being taught in Clarence schools. Lahti argued that as a mother of six children, she found the material “not conducive to good character and moral development in our children.”

She called on community and church members to rally with her at Monday night’s board meeting and to contact board members.

Her husband, board member Jason Lahti, said, “I’m not on any crusade to eradicate books from the library in school” and added that his wife sought “to see how the community stood on things, to make sure people are comfortable with the policies.”

But most of those in the audience Monday night actually came out to support the current curriculum.

Adrienne Costello-Sulik said, “These teachers know what their doing. They’re highly educated, experts in their field, they’re at the top of their game and we should respect them and let them do their jobs.”

Clarence teacher Joseph Zahn added, “We certainly cannot afford to count on parents to properly inform students about sexuality. I’m still waiting for my parents to give me the talk and I’m 41.”

Some of the material Lahti objected to involved health subjects, such as practicing safe sex, but she also focused on a number of books. Lahti argued several of the books she found “offensive” had either sexual content or depictions of violence or both, including “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, “The Road” by C. McCarthy, “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst, “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift, and “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton, just to name a few.

Some parents did opt out of allowing their children to read certain material in the curriculum.

Becky Florentino said, “When you have to read through all the foul language, or 30 percent of the book is foul language, a lot of the content is lost.”

In the end, the board took no action to change the current curriculum.

Board member Julie McCullough said, “These books, you can’t just take out a sentence from a book and then say something is wrong with that literature.”

The board made it clear Monday night that any parent is free to opt a student out of certain literary portions of the school year, but each year they say only a few use that option.

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