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509-J reviews project manager applications

School District Board members met July 9, prior to the regular meeting to review applications for the position of a project manager to oversee construction of an auditorium, stadium, and a new school in Warm Springs, pending the tribal referendum vote July 10.
   Superintendent Rick Molitor said he had heard many positive comments about the work being done to help get the vote out, and encouraged board members who were available to help at the Warm Springs Community Center on voting day.
   Regarding the concerns of a parent aired at the last board meeting about use of the book "Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, Molitor said he had received many phone calls on the topic.
   "There has been an outcry by community members in support of the book," he said, adding he felt it was "very important to hear from the teachers who use the book."
   Teacher Carrie McPeak presented gift copies of the book to board members for their review.
   Molitor and board members Brad Holliday and Laurie Danzuka all stated the board had not talked about banning the book at the previous meeting.
   It was the parent, Joie Trosper, who requested it be banned from the curriculum, but not the library.
   Several letters were mailed to the board on the topic, and two people came to speak at the meeting.
   MHS and OSU graduate Reina Estimo, who now serves on the Tribal Education Committee, spoke in support of the book, saying she discovered it as a high school student.
   "It will reach out to Native kids as no other book will. It reflects so much of their experience. There are controversial parts, but that's part of life when you're growing up in Warm Springs," Estimo said.
   She said the book was about a young, smart Indian kid who decides to attend high school off the reservation, and struggles with harassment from both cultures and his self-identity because of it.
   The book clicked with Estimo because she was also a good student. "I was harassed by my (Indian) peers until basketball season, then they liked me because I was good at basketball," she said.
   "This book can bring those issues into the classroom and kids can figure things out earlier. As an adult, I'd like to talk about race, but there's just no venue for that," Estimo said.
   "It's sad to be offended by this book, because these are real issues, and stuff I faced everyday. If you didn't grow up on a reservation, you may not understand that. The classroom is the most important place this book needs to be," Estimo said.
   Tribal member Anita Jackson also spoke, saying, "In general, banning books is an archaic thing to do," and mentioning classics like "Huckleberry Finn," "Catcher in the Rye," and "Gone With the Wind," that had been banned by some schools in the past.
   "High school is the perfect time (for these books), when kids have an open mind and are willing to discuss things," Jackson said.
   Molitor noted the board was just discussing the book and getting further information about it.
   "And about the process for parents wanting to opt out (of reading a controversial book)," Danzuka added.
   Board member Lyle Rehwinkel said he appreciated the opinions of the speakers, but also hears from concerned parents.
   "I think everybody should have a choice, and I don't want to take away a parent's choice," Rehwinkel said, noting many parents want to guide their young students toward making good decisions.
   Danzuka ended the discussion saying, "The board never has considered banning the book. We just wanted to review the process (of book selection)."
   Molitor said that later, he will have MHS teachers explain to the board how books are selected and what the process is to allow parents to have their student opt out of reading a controversial book.
   In other business, Laurie Danzuka was elected the new board chairman, and Stan Sullivan the new vice chairman.
   Under personnel, the board approved the hiring of first-year probationary teachers: at MHS, Georgina Monrean Fugate, science, Eric Carman, special ed; at JCMS, Erin Holman, language, Rachel Ryan, English Language Development, Holly Conger, life skills; at Buff: Rebecca Carnes, third grade, Lisa Bales, special ed; at Metolius, Stevie Howard, half-time counselor.
   Hannah Feigner was hired as a second-year probationary teacher at Madras Primary, and the resignation of Meike Williams, Title I reading teacher at Buff Intermediate was approved.