Ban of classic novel at Mississauga school is principal's perogative

  • August 25, 2009
{mosimage}MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says it’s much ado about nothing in the case of a Brampton principal who removed an American literary classic from his school’s Grade 10 reading list.

St. Edmund Campion High School principal Kevin McGuire will add a Canadian novel instead of the Pulitzer-prize winning and controversial book To Kill A Mockingbird, says board spokesperson Bruce Campbell.

A parent from the school objected to the book’s use of language, in particular the “n” word, and voiced concerns to the principal and the board.

Campbell told The Catholic Register that the book was not being pulled, nor is it blacklisted. He added that about half of the board’s 23 schools have the book on its reading list for the upcoming school year.

“It’s not our business to ban books,” he said.

Campbell said the board has a process in place of dealing with contested course material. In this case, he said, the parent who objected to the book could file a written complaint which would go to the board’s “Challenge Materials Committee.” It’s in charge of dealing with such complaints. But at this time, no such written complaint has been filed. 

Local trustee Linda Zanella said she sees nothing wrong with the principal’s decision and that the issue has been “blown out of proportion.”

“Under the Education Act, the principal of every school has a right to choose which books he (or she) will use for his curriculum,” she said.

Decisions like this one, she said, are based upon what a principal’s school community is like.

Zanella, who has read the novel and whose four daughters have also read the book, says her own “personal feeling” about the book is that it might be better suited for students in higher grades “given that a 14- or 15-year-old student might not be able to really completely comprehend that and there might be something better.”

This isn’t the first time a controversial book has been debated within some Ontario Catholic schools. In 2007, the Halton Catholic District School Board banned the fantasy book The Golden Compass. Concerns arose among some parents that the book was promoting an anti-Catholic and anti-God message.

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