A group of parents at Danbury Middle School wants a controversial book banned from their children's classroom.
"Fallen Angels," by Walter Dean Myers, is on the reading list for middle schoolers this year. The book depicts the reality of the Vietnam War, with sometimes gruesome descriptions of combat and frequent foul language from soldiers.
""We were just appalled to think that our 13-year-old daughter was having to read this out loud," said Greg Dziak, whose stepdaughter is in the eighth grade. "She was coming home from school complaining to us about the language of the book."
Dziak says the students were not allowed to take the book home, and parents were not informed ahead of time that a book with vulgar language and racist slang would be on the curriculum.
"It's something that shouldn't be in a middle school. It's controversial, and it's not necessary for a 13 year old to have to read," said Dziak.
According to the Washington Post, "Fallen Angels" ranks number 11 on the list of "Top 50 Banned/Challenged Books" from 2000 to 2009. It is approved for ages 13 and older.
Dziak says a picture of one of the pages from the book was posted on Facebook, which got the attention of several other parents, including Justin Tuttamore and Dave Wilson, who also have children reading the book.
"When I saw the book and found out a permission slip was never sent home, I thought right away, this teacher is trying to hide something from us," said Dave Wilson.
"We were basically told by the school it wasn't a problem, and it would be taken care of, but obviously, it hasn't been," said Justin Tuttamore.
Dan Parent, Superintendent of Danbury Local Schools, defends the decision to keep the book on the curriculum.
According to Parent, the school has used the book for five years, and has never had a complaint, however, he admits the English teacher who chose it made one mistake.
"Up until this point, the teacher had sent a consent letter home every year," said Parent, "but since he's been teaching it for four years, he just assumed that it wouldn't be a problem."
Parent says he does not believe the teacher, who was recently named an "honored educator," deserves to be punished.
Parent says when the issue came up, a letter was sent home to parents informing them about why the book may be controversial, and it offered a second reading option to parents who were uncomfortable with "Fallen Angels.
Out of 50 English students, five had parent who returned the form, opting out of the current reading material.
Dziak and other parents say they're planning to attend the Wednesday night school board meeting to voice their concerns. He and other parents want the book taken out of the school's curriculum for good, in addition to an apologize from the teacher, who he says, mocked their children for taking this issue to their parents.
Superintendent Parent says he wants to get parents more involved in order to prevent issues like this in the future.
"We're going to meet with a group of four parents in an executive session to discuss the issues and see what we can do moving forward."
The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
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