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Originally published: 2014-03-03 13:50:27
Last modified: 2014-03-03 13:51:13

Our View: Issue turns on split board vote

The book challenge regarding "The House of the Spirits" dividing parents, educators and members of the public has been ongoing since October 2013, and few confrontations have so polarized our community. 

Indeed, Thursday's decision to retain the book in the sophomore English honors curriculum was the third, and now final, time the issue has been considered through the appeal process. 

And as with those former appeals, sides were physically taken during Thursday's hearing. One half of those in the courtroom in the Watauga County Courthouse sat squarely behind the teacher of the novel, Mary Kent Whitaker, while the other half sat behind the parent challenging the use of the novel as a compulsory text, Chastity Lesesne.

In the end, the Watauga County Board of Education rendered a split decision retaining the novel in the curriculum.

It is not a decision that everyone agrees with, but then, by the nature of the challenge itself, no fully agreeable decision could have been reached. Asheville attorney Chris Campbell, advisor to the board, said as much Thursday. He was right.

Thursday's important vote by the Watauga County Board of Education mirrors the split feeling of our county on this subject. But now that the vote has been taken, and the appeals are final, it is just as important to heed the words board chairman Lee Warren spoke at the onset of the hearing: "Whether you agree or disagree, please be respectful of each other."

Showing such respect is now paramount to furthering the overall goal of this hearing -- the education of our children.