Parent Arrested After Complaining of Explicit Sex in Schoolbook
Tuesday, 06 May 2014 08:53 PM
By Jason Devaney
A New Hampshire parent was arrested Monday night at a school board meeting after complaining to officials about a book sent home with his 14-year-old daughter that contained graphic sexual content.
The book in question, "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult, was given to ninth-grade students in Gilford, N.H., to read. School officials say the book has important themes related to a school shooting. It also contains a graphic sexual encounter between two teenagers.
The book had been given to students in the past, but a letter to parents ahead of time was always mailed out. No letter was sent this year because of an apparent oversight, station WCVB reports.
William Baer said he discovered the passage when his daughter brought the book home. On Monday, he and other parents vented to officials at a school board meeting about the situation.
When another parent made the point that the letter should have gone home, Baer said, "This is absurd. This is ridiculous."
Story continues below video.
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"Nobody's talking about censoring the book, nobody's talking about banning the book or burning the book or anything," Baer said.
A member of the school board responded, "Would you please be respectful of the other people?"
"Like you're respectful to my daughter, right? And my children?" Baer said.
A police officer then appeared next to Baer and asked him to leave or he would be arrested. When Baer refused to leave, the officer placed a hand on his arm, guided him out of the room, and arrested him on a charge of disorderly conduct.
Baer was in violation of a two-minute rule that officials imposed so every parent at the meeting would be able to speak.
"It was basically, you make a statement, say what you want and sit down," Baer told WMUR-TV. "Sit down and shut up, basically, and that's not how you interact with adults."
Other parents voiced their support of Baer.
"I am utterly appalled that this was an oversight, that my son had this book in his hand for a week. [It's] unacceptable," Sarah Carrigan told WCVB.
"I fully understand how he feels. It really is a huge violation," Baer's wife, Barbara, said in the WCVB story. "Why should those ideas be put in their mind? They can discuss this some other way. They don't need that kind of imagery."
Baer said he was shocked when he read the passage.
"I've never read anything like this," he told WMUR. "It's like the transcript for a triple-X-rated movie."
The school board released a statement after the meeting:
"The board apologizes for the discomfort of those impacted and for the failure of the school district to send home prior notice of assignment of the novel . . . The district will take immediate action to revise these policies," the statement reads, according to WMUR.