Franklin Regional ‘interrupts’ teaching novel about Iranian Revolution after complaints


Franklin Regional School District ‘suspends’ use of novel in first-grade Specialized English class after school board members ask administrators to review its use amid concerns from some district residents .

“Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel about growing up as a 10-year-old girl amid the Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq War was approved almost a year ago as part of the curriculum for the ninth grade English class at Franklin Regional High School.

After going through the district’s curriculum committee, the award-winning novel was part of a 30-day public curriculum display for any parent in the district who wanted to know more, before it was approved by the school board. .

That’s why the parents of several first-year English students wanted to know why school officials suddenly chose to suspend teaching of the book, pending what Superintendent Gennaro Piraino said was a “thorough review.” by the program committee.

Piraino said several board members, including some program committee members, contacted the trustees after receiving calls and emails from district residents about the book.

“It was a few days before the book was taught,” Piraino told the Trib. “So the committee said they would like to know more about this book, as well as the context in which it is taught. And as an administration, our job is to give them options. They felt it best to take a break until they could take a closer look.

Mother Sarah Hough said she couldn’t understand how a few complaints from parents could disrupt an element of the program that had already been approved.

“Our district has a review process, and this book nailed it,” she said. “How long did our teachers spend developing the curriculum for this book before it was approved? Any parent who objected was given the opportunity to opt out and use alternative text. Is this how the program will be treated in the future? »

The book is not new to be removed from high school curricula. The Chicago City School District removed the book from classrooms in 2013 and 2016, coming under heavy criticism each time.

“We’ve all read it,” FR student Colin Burch said of himself and several classmates. “Your fears about this book are unfounded.”

Burch said the story includes a scene where a woman recounts an experience in which she is told she deserves to be raped.

“I would say that contrasts with the start of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ where someone casually refers to the rape of maids,” Burch said. “No one calls and complains about this.”

Joseph Hedden of Murrysville, parent of a first-year student in France, said he was disappointed to find out via social media that the book had been taken down.

“I’m disappointed with the lack of transparency,” Hedden said.

School board members and administrators had no comment at Monday’s meeting about the removed book.

“In effect, we are banning this novel without any public input or board vote,” parent Len Culley said. “Why are those who oppose the novel allowed to dictate the program after it has already been approved?”

Piraino told the Trib: ‘The curriculum committee obviously doesn’t closely assess every book you read. It’s not their job to write the program. But it’s their job to approve it in the end.

Christy Troutman, whose daughter is a freshman English student, felt school officials were not giving students enough credit.

“The purpose of public education is to expose our children to a variety of perspectives, to think critically about what they hear, to form their own opinions and to stand up for them,” Troutman said. “Our students are up to the task.

Susan Bayne of Murrysville said the “Persepolis” controversy is certainly not leading to a decrease in readership.

“Whoever was trying to prevent this book from being read, that certainly increased interest in this one,” Bayne said.

The Program Committee then meets at 5 p.m. on March 16 at the District Administrative Offices, 3210 School Road in Murrysville.

Patrick Varine is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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