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Controversial school reading assignment divides Driggs

By Luke Jones
Published On: Nov 13 2013 07:25:02 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 13 2013 07:33:57 PM CST

Teton High School removes "Bless Me Ultima" from curriculum after backlash from parents.

DRIGGS, Idaho -

"Bless Me Ultima" tells the coming-of-age story of a boy, but that's not what has parents at Teton High School outraged.

"A lot of sexual things in there. Things that I just didn't want my child to read,” said parent Shaylee Kearsley.

After days of backlash from angry parents, Principal Frank Mello says he's taken "Bless Me Ultima" off the curriculum.

"On a daily basis, I would say at this point in time, it's occupying 75 percent of my day between talking with parents, talking with teachers, talking with media, talking with concerned citizens,” Mello said.

But as the decision heads to the school board for review, it has some students asking why the book was ever removed.

"This is a really incredible piece of literature. It's so beautifully written, and it incorporates so many aspects of life,” said student Mariela Vazquez.

"There's no reason we can't teach the same literary concepts and give the same type of education and (get) discussions going using a different book,” said parent Brook Robinson.

But not all parents are against the book.

"Many of the classics have controversy,” said Linda Hutchinson. “Shakespeare is not clean. Hamlet talks about incest. Are we going to take these away from our children, too?”

While "Bless Me Ultima" has been removed from the curriculum, Local News 8 found three copies in the school library, where students are free to check them out. Mello says the school has had them for years, and there's never been any controversy until now.

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