Watauga Co. School Board to meet over controversial book

by: Dave Faherty Updated:


WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. - The Watauga County School Board will meet Thursday to decide whether or not to ban the book "The House of Spirits.”

It is being read by a 10th-grade honors English class and has become so controversial several teachers at the high school recently received threatening letters.  
The school district showed us the tickets they planned on passing out Thursday, but decided to scrap the idea after moving the school board meeting to the Watauga County courthouse that holds nearly 200 people. 
Some high school parents that Channel 9 spoke to have already made up their minds about the book.
"I'm all for them having that book taken out.  I'm a Christian and it goes against what much of us believe,” said father Mark Scruggs.
"I love the book and I have a 10th grader and he should read it,” said mother Allison Jennings.

The controversy started with this letter last fall from a parent who complained about the immoral, graphic content throughout the book which traces a family during the post-colonial social and political upheavals of Chile.
The parent told Eyewitness News by phone she doesn't want it banned but doesn't believe it is appropriate required reading for 15-year-olds. 
District officials said two school committees have reviewed and recommended keeping the book.  What concerns leaders the most are the threats made against teachers here.
"We have every opportunity for people to express their opinion.  We want people to express their opinion but there is never any excuse for people making a threat,” said Marshall Ashcraft with Watauga County Schools.
District officials said already they are allowing students opposed to "The House of Spirits" to read "Moby Dick" instead.

Ahead of the school board meeting, a rally is planned against banning the book on the campus of Appalachian State University.

Even parents who haven't read the book have strong opinions on what should happen. 
"Let it be up to the parents to decide whether they want their child to be involved instead of just banning it, because that's your freedom of speech,” said a parent.