Desoto County News

Inappropriate content revealed in school reading material

Tambre Wells is a parent of an eighth grader at Lake Cormorant Middle School who recently came to the DeSoto County Schools Board of Education concerned about the content in a book her eighth grader was reading in class. 

Wells spoke to the board about “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” The book is a novel by Sherman Alexie, published in 2007, that relates the story of a budding cartoonist who grew up on an Indian reservation but moved from his tribal school to an all-white farm town high school where he is the only Native American, after the school mascot.  

Amazon rates the book for 11-13 year olds, and said Alexie wrote the book based on his own experiences and chronicles the contemporary adolescence of a Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. 

However, Wells said the book’s content made her girl uncomfortable, because as she told the board, it describes “bullying, teen drinking, shoplifting, racism, and sexual content.”  

“As a parent with conservative values, I’m not alone in requesting an audit of the curriculum and library school books that are sexually explicit in nature or otherwise deemed inappropriate,” Wells said. “It’s important to maintain a safe and respectful learning environment for our children.” 
As an example, Wells read a portion of the book in a chapter she said was titled, “Naked Woman Plus Right Hand Equals Happy Happy Joy Joy.” The chapter talked about masturbation and the character’s enjoyment of the practice. 

“If that made you uncomfortable, it made me uncomfortable,” Wells told the board. “I wanted to bring this to light.”

Supt. Cory Uselton and Board Chair Charles Barton were quick to respond, saying the matter was brought to their attention and quickly addressed.  

“After it came to our attention, it was addressed within almost minutes or hours at the superintendent/board level,” Uselton said, with Barton adding, “We met within a couple of hours and it was 5-0. We all agree that’s not going to be tolerated, not for one minute.”

Uselton also said the matter is being addressed at all of the district schools.  

“As far as library books, I’ve met with all of the directors who are over the primary schools, intermediate schools, middle schools and high schools,” Uselton said. “They’re going to be meeting with the principals individually to discuss this concern. I can’t even describe how disappointed we are that any student read that. That is unacceptable.”

Uselton added that any time a concern about curriculum comes to light by a parent, they need to bring it to their school principal’s attention.  

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