Jul 28, 2014
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How Did ‘Porn’ Get on Emmaus Summer Reading List?

Two parents ask East Penn Board of School Directors at Monday night's meeting how 'pornographic' books wound up on Emmaus High School's Optional Summer Reading List.

How Did ‘Porn’ Get on Emmaus Summer Reading List?

Two Emmaus High School parents came before the East Penn Board of School Directors Monday night to ask the board what it is going to do about the “pornographic” book selections on the optional summer reading list.

Paula Wittman, 560 Broad St., addressed the board along with Jeff Lotte of the same address. The books triggering their alarm are Tom Wolfe’s “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” which is on the 10th grade list, and “Prep,” a 9th-grade selection written by Curtis Sittenfeld.

The , although they include graphic sexual and drug-related content.

In particular, Wittman, who did the talking for the pair while Lotte handed out photocopied passages from the books, raised red flags about the appropriateness of a passage in “Prep” that graphically describes an underage girl engaging in oral sex and a section of “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” that talks about “a drug-and-alcohol-induced gang bang."

Wittman said: “The school board and administration owe the public an explanation on how pornographic material can be shown to our children. We want to know who approved this book being on the list, who is going to accept the responsibility for this and is someone going to review the list and remove the pornography?

At the end of the meeting, when it came time to address new business, School Director Julian Stolz expressed his concern with the summer reading selections, asking superintendent Thomas Seidenberger some of the very same questions raised by Wittman.

“I am taken aback and kind of surprised that we would have anything like this on the suggested reading list,” Stolz told Seidenberger, “and I would just ask what is the process of getting something like this on the suggested reading list?”

Seidenberger responded that one of the two books that Wittman is concerned about was actually challenged at his very first East Penn School Board meeting five years ago. (After the meeting, board president Charles Ballard confirmed that Seidenberger had been referring to Wolfe’s “Acid Test.”)

“These are probably parents that haven’t been down this street before,” Seidenberger responded to Stolz. “Staff members make recommendations and look at those books based on a variety of sources, including high school librarian recommendations and whether the books have won awards.

“These are optional books,” Seidenberger stressed. “They are not required books. They are books that students may opt to read.”

School Director Francee Fuller said that she had no problem with these books being on the high school’s optional summer reading list, especially since the books are optional and the book descriptions caution parents about the content.

“[This content] may be appropriate for some students,” Fuller said. “It is not appropriate for all, but we have a sophisticated student body at East Penn. It is no more alarming than much of the content that students encounter with other parts of their lives.”

In the end, Stolz . The board will vote on the motion at its next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24 in the .

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