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Originally published: 2014-02-24 12:41:12
Last modified: 2014-02-24 15:31:22

WCS superintendent makes a statement regarding letters sent to teachers

by Allison Haver

The "House of the Spirits" book challenge has seen its share of controversy. Law enforcement officials are the latest to be included.



The Boone Police Department along with High Country Crime Stoppers is investigating letters that teachers at Watauga High School received on Feb. 17, concerning the book.



"The House of the Spirits," a 1982 novel by Isabel Allende, is a part of the sophomore honors English curriculum at Watauga High School.



The novel's content is the main reason behind a Watauga High School parent book challenge that will go through a third and final appeal before the Watauga County Board of Education at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27. The meeting will be held at the Margaret Gragg Education Center.



Two other committees have voted to retain the book. In October, the Media/Technology Advisory Committee for Watauga High School, which is chaired by Assistant Principal Craig Wright and consists of students, parents and teachers, voted unanimously to retain the book, and in December, a second review committee comprised of WCS interim Supt. David Fonseca, other county educators and a community representative.



"It is one thing to disagree with a policy or a procedure or a book used in the schools.  It is a completely different and unacceptable thing to threaten someone because they hold a different opinion," interim superintendent David Fonseca said in a statement.



"This threat is a despicable attempt to intimidate a very professional and accomplished group of educators who deserve our respect.  It is also a criminal act, and we are cooperating fully with local law enforcement in their efforts to find out who is responsible for the letters.  We will support the prosecution of that person or persons to the fullest extent of the law," Fonseca said.



Lt. Chris Hatton with the Boone Police Department said that several teachers at Watauga High School received several letters from an unknown individual upset about the book challenge which made them feel "threatened."



"The language used in the letters can and have made people feel threatened," Hatton said. "And that's why we are involved."



Hatton said specific detail regarding the content of the letters could not be disclosed but said the letters were only directed towards teachers and not students.



"It's a tough situation because folks have strong opinions about both sides (of the book challenge)," Hatton said.



"It's OK to have opinions but sending letters with that kind of language is inappropriate," he said. "The bottom line is we don't want our teachers to feel threatened and we will do whatever we can to put an end to it."



The Boone Police Department is working with the District Attorney's office, Watauga County Sheriff's Office and school officials to track down the author of the letters to see what the intent was behind.



On Monday, Hatton said there had not been "any real development" as of Monday morning.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (828) 268-6959 or (828) 737-0125 or the Boone Police Department at (828) 268-6900. 



All information will be kept confidential.



High Country Crime Stoppers pays rewards for information that leads to arrests; recovery of stolen property; seizure of drugs and the location of wanted persons.