Unlike the monster Grendel, the book "Grendel" has been spared.
Davis School District officials on Tuesday announced the book - which some parents wanted banned from Viewmont High School - will remain in the school's curriculum.Ten members of an 11-member district committee voted to keep the book, a decision that District Superintendent Rich Kendell supports.
"I think the committees have made a responsible decision," Kendell said.
But parent Marie Burke, who has spearheaded the fight against "Grendel," said she was "very disappointed" in the decision.
"I'm sure the parents (opposed to the book) will try to file an appeal. We don't know how yet, but we'll find out."
"Grendel," published in 1971 by the late John Gardner, came under fire in December after Burke, whose daughter was asked to read graphic passages from the book in her English class at Viewmont High School, complained to the school administration that the book was obscene and should not be required reading.
Burke later circulated a flier containing excerpts from the book, which is a retelling of the medieval epic poem "Beowulf."
The excerpts described bodily functions and depicted scenes of violence, some of them sexual.
Following guidelines established by the National Council of Teachers of English, the Viewmont English faculty reviewed the book and the complaints, but ultimately recommended it remain in the curriculum.
After that, Burke and a group of parents who supported the removal of "Grendel" from the curriculum asked the district to review the book.
The district committee, composed of six teachers and five parents, read the book and submitted its recommendation. All of the teachers voted to keep the book, while four of the five parents voted to keep it.
Burke said she is concerned that there were more teachers than parents on the committee.
"Teachers tend to band together and be very solid." Burke said she also wished the parents would have all been from the Viewmont area. As it was, only two of the five parents were from within the Viewmont boundaries.
Though Kendell chose to keep "Grendel" in the curriculum, he is asking teachers to follow certain guidelines (see box). And Kendell stresses they are only guidelines.
"We're loath to give edicts these days," he said, adding that he believes teachers will act responsibly.
District Superintendent Rich Kendell wants teachers to follow these guidelines:
- Teach the book only to 12th-graders and in connection with "Beowulf."
- Ensure that students and parents know that there is an alternative to the book if a student chooses not to read it.
- Prepare students to understand the context and meaning of the book.
- Consider the maturity level of the student group to be taught the book.