Schofield teacher on leave after parent complains of 'pornographic' book
A Schofield Middle School teacher has been placed on administrative leave while officials investigate whether the teacher breached school policy or the law when he read to his class from a science fiction book described by one parent as pornographic. Sources said the teacher read from three books, among them"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card, as part of the district's literacy initiative program. Card's 1985 novel won several science fiction awards and is listed on numerous children's literary review websites as appropriate for children 12 and up. The teacher reportedly selected the books, but may have not followed school policy that would require the books first be reviewed. Joy Shealy, school district academic officer for middle schools, said there is a policy that defines steps teachers ought to take when presenting supplemental material. "One of the things that teachers are supposed to do is preview material for appropriateness for any questions that may come up," Shealy said. "By doing that, we make sure the materials that are presented to students are age and instructionally appropriate - all the things that make a good instructional program." The incident that came to light this week involved a student's complaint concerning materials characterized by the student and the parent as pornographic, according to a press release issued by the school district. "The complaint was communicated to the school Friday and followed by a conference with the school administration Friday afternoon," according to the district's statement. The administration gathered a written statement from the student, which is normal procedure, and initiated an immediate investigation, according to the administration. After reviewing the student's statement, school officials indicated that the investigation would continue, school administrators stated this week. Administrators were reportedly concerned with the report that the books had curse words and terms in them that might not be age appropriate. Early Monday, during the on-going review of the books, including "Ender's Game," administrators learned from police that the same parent who had approached school officials Friday had filed a report with Aiken Public Safety. The boy's mother told police she had spoken with the school's principal who told her that "they would handle it in house." The law requires that school administrators notify local law enforcement officers anytime possible criminal activity is alleged. Police have not filed any criminal charges against the teacher at this time. The investigation is still ongoing, said Aiken Public Safety Lt. David Turno. After the teenager's mother contacted police, investigators contacted the school. School officials have since said two of the three books the teacher read were determined to have materials (primarily swear words) and, in some instances, subject matter and terminology that school administrators consider inappropriate for the middle school. According to commonsensemedia.org, which claims it has in-house staff and a team of reviewers who are experts in children's media, technology, health and policy matters, "this book was not originally intended for children. The violence is, at times, quite brutal, as kids kill other kids, though unintentionally, and the main character is admired for his ruthlessly efficient violence, though he himself is disturbed by it." The website also advises parents to be aware of violence, sex and language, but states that the content is appropriate for children 12 years or older. The student who gave a statement to the school is 14. Administrators said the investigation will include whether school staff followed district protocol in a timely manner. "Matters that involve personnel considerations are dealt with promptly but must take into account reasonable measures to protect the privacy of students and staff," according to the district administration's statement. The school district has been under fire in the past for failing to report potential illegal behavior to local law enforcement in a timely manner. In September and October of last year, law enforcement officers were notified of alleged incidents at an area school by parents before anyone with the school contacted police. Rob Novit contributed to this article. Contact Karen Daily at firstname.lastname@example.org. RELATED: Read the Aiken County Public School District release statement response to the incident.