The Wayland Board of Education Monday night turned down a request to remove the book “Oryx and Crake” from the high school library.
The book’s author, Margaret Atwood, also penned the much more famous but dystopian “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which has become a popular television series.
Assistant Supt. for Instruction Teresa Fulk told board members the book, published in 2003, has been in the library since 2007. She added that she and school board members Theresa Dobry and Becky Hohnke were part of a special committee that was formed to examine the merits and demerits of the request in October. They determined that the book has some literary merit and is intended for a limited audience of advanced placement (AP) students.
Fulk said the volume is referenced in the AP exam, but it is not required reading. It has been checked out only three times since being added 15 years ago.
The parent who made the request contended it contained inappropriate material and language. However, she acknowledged that she had read only 19 pages of the 376-page book.
Hohnke said she read it cover to cover and noted it wasn’t something she would choose to read.
But she added, “I had a hard time reading it, but it was interesting.”
Board Vice President Cinnamon Mellema said reading only 19 pages doesn’t give anyone a solid understanding of the story.
Board President Dan Cassini said, “We have a process, a good process” to handle issues such as these.
Supt. Tim Reeves said he wouldn’t be surprised if the board was to receive similar attempts to ban books because of the recent parental rights movement.
In other business at Monday night’s work session the board:
- Received a report from Food Service Director Scott Larson about the state of the service since the challenges of Covid-19 were faced in the district. Larson said breakfast number are the same or slightly better and the number of students getting lunches is only slightly fewer.
- Was told by Reeves that there will be a meeting Dec. 19 to go over ballot language for the special election on the proposed bond next May. He said there are no plans for any changes in the proposal.
- Made positive comments about outgoing member Mellema, who was defeated last month in her bid to finish a two-year term. Reeves, Casini, Dobry and Honk praised her for her professionalism and leadership.
- Agreed to renew a five-year contract with Applied Imaging for copiers and services at a 4 percent increase.
- Approved the hire of a school psychologist for four days a week and allowing Allegan Public Schools one day a week.