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D86 Movie Controversy: Parent's Appeal Goes Before Board Monday

Victor Casini has appealed the decision made by Superintendent Nick Wahl that all district policies were followed in the showing of two R-rated movies in a Hinsdale South film class.

The District 86 Board of Education at its regular action meeting Monday night will discuss and possibly act on a Hinsdale South parent's appeal of Superintendent Nick Wahl's decision on a recent curriculum objection related to the showing of two R-rated movies in a Film as Literature course. 

Victor Casini, the Hinsdale South parent who filed the first District 86 curriculum objection in at least eight years over the showing of American Beauty and Brokeback Mountain, alerted the district earlier this month that he is appealing Wahl's decision, which concluded that all district policies were followed by the course's teacher and department.

READ: D86 Parent Appealing Superintendent's Ruling on Objection to Sex-Heavy Movies

Monday night's meeting takes place at Hinsdale South and starts at 7:30 p.m. Its full agenda can be found here on the district's website. 

Wahl's decision was sent to Casini on Oct. 3 and summarized the findings of complaint manager Tom Paulsen:

"After careful review of the findings from Mr. Paulsen, it is evident that the building followed District 86 Board Policy 6:210 whereby the building principal approves all R-rated films shown. District 86 Administrative Procedures were also followed in that the teacher, Ms. [Kristin] Wimsatt, sent out a permission slip to gain parental consent for each student to view specific R-rated movies as a part of the Film as Literature course. In addition, Ms. Wimsatt and Mr. [David] Anderson, Hinsdale South English Department Chair, provided you with information related to the movies Brokeback Mountain and American Beauty and indicated the edits of certain implied sex scenes in both films. Mr. Anderson also provided you with the following options: (1) your son completes an alternative assignment in lieu of watching the films with no academic consequence (2) your son watches the films as edited (3) your son changes to a different course without penalty. You indicated that you were treated with respect and consideration throughout your interactions with the staff and administration at Hinsdale South and District 86."

Wahl's decision said that, going forward, written permission will be required at the beginning of the course for students to view its R-rated movies, and if R-rated movies are going to be shown, a list of the movies will be available through the English department at the time of class registration.

Casini broke his appeal down to three questions posed to the district:

  • "Is it appropriate for our district to include as part of its classroom instruction the films American Beauty and Brokeback Mountain to students of junior and senior age?"
  • "Should my family have been afforded the same protections that Superintendent Wahl is instituting for the 2013-14 school year?"
  • "Did the Administration follow District policy when it commenced showing the Subject Films prior to the exhaustion of my rights as a parent under the Uniform Grievance Procedure (Policy No. 2:260)?"

District 86 Board Policy 2:260 accounts for Casini's right to appeal Wahl's decision to the District 86 Board of Education. According to the policy, the board has the power to “affirm, reverse, or amend” the decision. The board can also direct the superintendent to gather more info.

READ: How Does a Curriculum Objection Work in District 86?

"Within 5 school days of the Board’s decision, the Superintendent shall inform the Complainant of the Board’s action," the policy reads. "The Complainant may appeal the Board of Education’s decision to the Regional Superintendent pursuant to Section 3-10 of The School Code and, thereafter, to the State Superintendent pursuant to Section 2-3.8 of The School Code."

Other Patch stories on the District 86 movie issue:

  • D86 Board Decision on Racy Movies Not What Most Audience Members Wanted
  • Complaints About Sex-Heavy Films in School Prompt Cops to Review District Emails

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