HARRY POTTER BOOKS OK'D FOR SIMI SCHOOLS.
Harry Potter, a young wizard who stars in a series of children's books, won another challenge Wednesday to the volumes that bear his name.
Simi Valley school officials said a seven-member committee of parents, teachers and administrators read ``Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,'' and decided to allow teachers to continue to read the book aloud in district classrooms.
Parents, though, will still have the option to take their children out of class during reading time so they are not exposed to the story.
``What we've said is, yes, we're not going to take the book out of our classrooms, but we're not requiring children to listen to it and not requiring them to read it,'' said Rebecca Wetzel, director of elementary education for the Simi Valley Unified School District..
She said the committee first read the book, then considered the objections raised by a Simi Elementary School parent, who said the volume was violent, anti-family, had a religious theme and lacked any educational value.
``When we finished them, we made the recommendation that none of the concerns were so great we would prohibit a child from reading it for recreation,'' she said.
Cynthia Kersey, the mother who filed the complaint, said she was disappointed in the committee's finding because it preserves the status quo.
``I think it's pathetic that the school district is afraid to make a moral decision,'' she said. ``They're afraid of the media attention and chose inaction at the expense of our children, who they are supposed to protect.''
Wetzel said she does not know how many district teachers have opted to read Harry Potter stories to their classes, although the books are at most of the elementary school campuses. They are brought in by teachers and individual students.
Over the last few weeks, parents across the country have expressed similar concerns about the books.
Last month, a complaint from a Moorpark parent about ``Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'' prompted administrators and principals in that district to read the book for themselves. They decided to allow Moorpark teachers to use their own discretion when choosing books to read.
Wetzel said that because Kersey's complaint applied only to the first of three books in the Harry Potter series, the two others may be considered separately if someone complains about them as well.
Kersey said she does not plan to bother filing a complaint on the others, believing the decision would be no different.
``The other books (in the series) get worse, but if they've accepted this they've accepted the entire thing,'' she said. ``This is a strong warning to parents to get into the classroom. Don't assume teachers are making strong moral choices. Look at the books.''
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Nov 18, 1999|
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