A Duchesne County public school teacher will receive a letter of warning from a state commission after it decided she made unprofessional statements to news reporters regarding a rape victim and her family.
The Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission, part of the Utah Department of Education, concluded it could not address accusations that the Tabiona School English teacher spoke in front of other students when she assigned a 16-year-old female student to write an essay about being raped and having a baby.
English teacher Glenda Norviel said she spoke privately with the girl while suggesting the assignment as an alternative to reading a novel, which the girl had objected to because of its obscene language and sexual content.
However, the commission did decide some of Norviel's statements to reporters warranted a black mark in her permanent licensing file.
In a conversation with the Deseret News, Norviel appeared to question whether the girl had actually been raped before getting pregnant and giving the child up for adoption, although the perpetrator confessed and is serving a lengthy prison sentence for the crime. Norviel said the girl had "supposedly been raped," that "the issue isn't the book but how she's being raised," then added, "If she's been through all this, why can't she be allowed to read a little suggestive matter?"
She also was quoted as telling a Salt Lake Tribune reporter that the girl "is not an innocent" and "If she just had a baby six weeks ago, is reading the f-word going to cause her emotional trauma for the rest of her life?"
The girl's mother said she is not satisfied with the state's action.
"This is nothing but a slap on the wrist," said the mother, whose name is withheld to avoid identifying her daughter. "I think she should be fired. I don't think she should ever be allowed to work with children again."
Although the Duchesne County School District has reportedly placed a letter of reprimand in Norviel's local file, she remains employed by the district. In early May Tabiona School Principal Robert Park wrote the Uintah Basin Standard a letter expressing support for Norviel and criticizing the paper for publicizing the issue.
After more than one parent objected to the book assigned by Norviel, however, it was withdrawn from the English class at the direction of Superintendent John Aland. The district also changed its policy so future reading assignments must be selected from a committee-approved list.School officials and Norviel could not be reached for comment by press time.