Weiser parent group speaks out after controversial poem is shared with students
Parents say “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg was made available to students in a creative writing class at Weiser High School
WEISER, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — A group of parents in Weiser are spreading the word about an incident where students were exposed to what they say was “graphic and sexually explicit material” during class.
Jonathon and Karlee Lerew said their 14-year-old daughter was in a creative writing class at Weiser High School when the teacher read portions of a poem called “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. They added the poem in its entirety was made available to students thereafter.
Parental advocacy group Power2Parent said by sharing the poem with students, the children were exposed to “pornographic, salacious and obscene material.”
“No parents were notified that this was happening. No email, no phone call, no letter sent home,” said Power2Parent Weiser Chapter President Narie Young. “It was done without parents giving approval.”
“It’s saddening to know that in this nice, conservative town, something like this was done,” said Karlee Lerew.
With their daughter in her first year of studies at this school, the Lerews said they are disappointed this experience came at the start of their daughter’s high school career.
“This is her freshman year and her introduction to this class,” Karlee Lerew said. “She thought that this was normal.”
“Howl” has long been controversial due to its mature content. So much so that it was the subject of a highly publicized obscenity trial in 1957.
Weiser School District Superintendent Wade Wilson responded to a request for comment saying in part: “The poem was not, and would not have been, approved for use in the Weiser School District.” It also made clear the district cannot comment on personnel matters.
The Lerews said the school’s internal investigation is not enough.
“He continues to speak to those students that were in his classroom that may or may not have had emotional trauma from the reading of that poem,” said Johnathon Lerew.
Young said this is why parents like the Lerews are highlighting what they say is the need for parents to be involved in the protection and education of their children.
“You would think that something like this would not occur in such a small town as Weiser — 5500 people — but it is, and it’s occurring across the country,” Young said. “There’s a reason why parents are fed up.”
The full statement from Superintendent Wade Wilson can be seen below:
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