Here I side with the "Teach," but the rule is sound. Bowdlerize!
INDIANAPOLIS -- Suspended Perry Meridian High School teacher Connie Heermann says she believes administrators' fear of their school board is one reason why she faces getting fired for assigning a certain book to her students. Heermann (pictured) was placed on administrative leave after she assigned "The Freedom Writers Diary," a collection of at-risk teenagers' essays containing swear words and sexual overtones, to her 11th-grade English students in November. The Perry Township school district says Heermann assigned the book before administrators could answer her request for permission to use it. Heermann, however, says she tried unsuccessfully for months to get the answer, and she assigned the book only after she received permission from the students' parents and positive signs -- though no expressed approval -- from two superiors.
In an interview with 6News on Tuesday, the 26-year teaching veteran said she believes the book's swear words and sexual content was one reason approval wasn't given. But she also suspects recent controversy in the district -- including the July departure of the superintendent and protests over a 2006 student play -- made administrators hesitant. "Most of the administrators at central office fear for their jobs," Heermann told 6News' Rick Hightower. "They don't want to be responsible for anything because they are afraid the board will fire them." The school board plans to mull at a hearing Feb. 7 whether to fire Heermann. Heermann said she wanted to use the book -- which was the basis for the "Freedom Writers" movie -- because she thought it would inspire her students, many of whom are considered to be at-risk. "What better book than this one by American students similar to the ones I teach and their testimony of how they eliminated the anger and the hatred and the violence and all the other obstacles that hold them back?" Heermann said. Heermann said she received private funding to pay for the books, and she received permission from parents of 149 of her 150 students to use the books in her class. The student whose parents didn't give approval was assigned a different book, Heermann said. She said she sought approval from district's curriculum director before the school year began and waited months without reply. She said her principal indicated he thought the book would be OK, but he told her not to use it until the curriculum director gave the green light. Heermann said the district's acting superintendent read the book and complimented it in a note to her, but again, the decision to approve it was the curriculum director's -- not his. Heermann said she distributed the book on Nov. 15. Not long afterward, the school district ordered her to take the books back from the students. Jon Bailey, an attorney for the school district, said Heermann violated district policy by not waiting for approval. "She became impatient with it," Bailey said.