Pasco school committee agrees to ban book

Posted at 5:12 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 17:53:43-04

A controversial book is now being pulled from Pasco Middle School in Dade City.

Parents made a formal complaint to the district about the book "Perks of Being a Wallflower" by author Stephen Chbosky after it was given out as reading material to a seventh grade advanced English language arts class. They were concerned about sexually explicit language and topics in the text. 

The book, first released some 20 years ago, delves into topics including sexual orientation and sexual abuse.

Monday, for the first time in district history, a school review board met to talk about their concerns with the book.  The committee agreed to ban the book from Pasco Middle School, and is recommending to the superintendent that it be banned from schools across the district. 

But some parents are so disturbed that the book was ever let into classrooms they are looking into some extreme measures. 

"We hire Kurt Browning, the school's superintendent, to assist in my child's education. He's not the primary source of my child's education. I am. And Kurt Browning's responsibility is to assist me. I don't need him to go against me in providing pornographic material and instructing my child to read it. If Kurt Browning can't do a better job, he needs to resign," parent Matt Ramer said.

Ramer said he's even planning to file a police report against Browning, claiming he violated Florida statute 847.011, which covers persons who knowingly "sell, lend, give away, distribute, transit, show, or transmute, or offers to sell, lend, give away, distribute, transmit show, transmit or transmute, or advertise in any matter, any obscene book, magazine..." The statute goes on to say "the knowing possession by any person of three or more similar or identical a prima facie evidence of the violation of the paragraph.."  The statute says violators commit a third-degree felony.

Browning has not responded to those allegations. A district spokesperson referred only to a prior statement, in which Browning indicated he found the material inappropriate.

"I sincerely apologize for this egregious oversight and will make sure all of our teachers and substitute teachers are aware of the expectations for screening materials they wish to use for instruction," Browning's statement said.

The principal of Pasco Middle School, Jeff Wolff, agreed the text was inappropriate and said all staff need awareness of available resources to screen materials before they are given to student. He says "lessons have been learned" from this incident.