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Hinsdale South Syllabus is 'Very Poor,' Says D86 Board Member About Controversial Lit Class

The board voted 5-2 in favor of upholding the superintendent's decision to continue allowing 'Brokeback Mountain' and 'American Beauty' to be shown as part of a Hinsdale South class.

Two District 86 school board members questioned whether the board was violating its own policies Monday night. At issue was an appeal of Superintendent Nick Wahl's decision to continue allowing the movies "Brokeback Mountain" and "American Beauty" to be shown as part of a Hinsdale South literature class.

A Hinsdale South parent filed the district's first curriculum objection in eight years, saying the movies contained sexual content and obscenities of which he did not approve.

On October 3, Wahl made a decision that the school acted according to policy and followed proper procedures in allowing the principal to approve all R-rated movies shown. The decision delivered to the parent, Victor Casini, read in part:

"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 courseThe parent, Victor Casini, who is an attorney and former member of the Gower 62 school board, appealed the decision. The appeal maintained that the movies are not age appropriate and requested the showing of the movies be temporarily halted as the objection process took place..."

Casini said he signed the Film as Literature syllabus several school days into the school year, but said the syllabus contained a number of movies without thorough descriptions. Casini said he hadn’t seen either of the movies in question until after signing the syllabus.

"The syllabus produced by Hinsdale South is a very poor syllabus. Brokeback Mountain is not even listed as an R-rated movie," said board member Richard Skoda. "There’s more to movies than pornography, violence, drugs..."

On Monday night, board member Dianne Barrett said two policies had been brought to her attention, which should be considered regarding the superintendent's decision.

"The parent in question made a comment about looking at [Policy 6:180,], and it indicates that if the subject matter is controversial, the board should take a look at it," said Barrett.

Barrett said the second policy that was brought to her attention, Policy 6:160, stated that in all grades, character values must be stressed.

"Quite frankly, I think we should ask the superintendent to go back and reconsider what is being directed to the resident," said Barrett. "I think we're violating our own policies."

Wahl said part of the review did take into consideration the standards of the literature department.  

"The board has all the materials. Mr. Casini was interviewed..Tom Paulsen’s report is in here. It totals 57 pages ... I’d say based on the materials, we are able to make a decision on whether we accept the superintendent’s decsion or not," said Board President Dennis Brennan.

The board voted 5-2 to approve the superintendent's decision to continue showing the movies. Board members Dennis Brennan, Kay Gallo, DeeDee Gorgol, Michael Kuhn and Jennifer Planson voted in favor. Board members Richard Skoda and Dianne Barrett voted against.

Casini declined to comment on the decision, except to say, "I'm out of it now. It's the board's decision."

Jeff October 23, 2012 at 11:49 PM
At 17 years of age, if you think your kids aren't aware or mature enough for these topics to be exposed to them pat yourself on the back for being a bad parent and completely clueless about life on planet earth.
Steve October 27, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Casini signed the syllabus and now he wants to stop the movies from being shown? What a moron. I agree with Jeff that's Victor is a bad parent. It's about time he gets a clue.
Donna J January 22, 2013 at 09:02 AM
Gee, Steve, who are you so mad at? You couldn't make the same point without going to personal attacks? To the point: I know my grandkids know all of this (for lack of a better word), stuff. How I wish they didn't. But, I digress....yes, there is crap all over the place (Honey, I live in L.A., for God's sake), but do we have to show it in 3rd period? What happened to Ulysses and some of the other, as Grama would say, "uplifting" classics? Do we have to roll in the slop with the pigs? Yeah, my granddaughter, age 16, knows about "Broke..." but isn't sure who Salinger is? She goes to one of the top public high schools in So. Ca.; there are very few of them but we did find one. What are we teaching our kids and what kind of world are we giving them if they don't know O'Neil or Joyce. How about giving them some Dreiser, Dybek, Turkle, Farrell, Wright. I wonder what they would do with 20 year old Bigger Thompson in 1930s Chicago who just happened to kill a rich white man's only daughter. Have any of you read it? Gee, that story almost sounds like it could be written TODAY! Even lived! All these writers came from Chicago. Did you know that? And, I didn't even call you a Moron.
Cathy April 05, 2013 at 03:08 PM
When Mr. Casini signed the syllabus, there was NO MENTION or disclosure of what movies would be shown to his son. Pulling a child out of a class that a parent thinks contains material they don't want their child to see, is not an easy solution. The student can be subject to ridicule. Ever parent should have the right to know what materials will be used in class before the class is taught. I think a parent who cares about their child pays attention to class content.
Cathy April 05, 2013 at 03:12 PM
What I find so interesting in the attacks toward Mr. Casini and others who protested the R rated movies at Hinsdale South, is that everyone is calling this "censorship". i call it responsibility. What would stop a teacher from showing pornography to the students. if we did not censor anything and had no limits to what could be shown to our kids at school. Where does that end? Believe it or not, there are still some kids who find that kind of thing uncomfortable and inappropriate, and there are still some parents who have a moral fiber.

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