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Tonight’s School Board Meeting Moved To Larger WHS Auditorium, Franklin Graham Joins the Fray

By Jesse Wood

Feb. 10, 2014. Expecting a larger attendance than usual for a school board meeting, administration with Watauga County Schools announced early Monday that tonight’s Watauga County Board of Education meeting will be held in the auditorium of the Watauga High School rather than Margaret E. Gragg Education Center.

Among the line items on tonight’s agenda is “Book Challenge – 3rd Level of Appeal,” in regards to the “House of the Spirits” novel that was taught in a 10th grade honors English class until a parent protested and officially challenged contents of the book last October.

While that is on tonight’s agenda, WCS spokesman Marshall Ashcraft wrote in an email last week that “my understanding is that it’s unlikely the board will actually discuss and resolve the appeal at the board meeting. It’s more likely they will choose to schedule a separate meeting devoted to that topic.”

Speaking on Monday, Ashcraft wouldn’t comment on how he expects the proceedings to go tonight.

“I can’t make an official statement,” Ashcraft said.

As for the larger crowd anticipated for this hot-button issue, Ashcraft said, without naming any particular groups, that the education system has heard comments regarding more people attending the event than usual.

“We haven’t heard anything official, just heard comments indicating some people are interested in increasing the turnout,” Ashcraft said.

This morning, the WHS Students’ Right To Read Facebook page posted this message: “Franklin Graham announced to his employees this morning he is shutting Samaritan’s Purse down at 2 p.m. and instructed employees (one of the largest employers in our area) to ‘bring a snack’ and go to the school board meeting room and fill up all the seats. So much for respecting the democratic process!”

Karina Petersen, media relations coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse, said on Monday afternoon that message wasn’t “entirely correct.”  

She added that Samaritan’s Purse wasn’t planning to close early unless heavy snow mounts in Boone, but she did say that CEO Franklin Graham “did encourage parents with children” in the school system to attend the school board meeting.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. tonight. See meeting’s agenda here.

Read prior articles on the topic:

Jan. 15, 2014. Parent Files Final Appeal for WHS Book Challenge, School Board Expected To Entertain Matter in February

Dec. 13, 2013: Committee Retains ‘The House of the Spirits’ After Hearing Whitaker, Lesesne at Appeal Thursday

Dec. 6 2013: Local Book Stores, Libraries See Spike In Demand For ‘The House Of The Spirits’ Since Book Challenge In Oct.

Dec. 4, 2013: Standing Room Only in Anne Belk Library at ASU for ‘The House of The Spirits’ Teach-In Tuesday Night

Nov. 27, 2013: Coalition Against Censorship Pens Letter To WCS Book Challenge Review Committee: ‘Retain the Book’

Nov. 21, 2013: Allende, Author of ‘The House of the Spirits,’ Defends Book, Pens Letter to Watauga School Board, Staff

Nov. 18, 2013: GOP Commissioners Voice Objections To Watauga School Board Regarding ‘The House of Spirits’ Novel at WHS

Nov. 8, 2013: Members Selected for Committee To Review Challenge of ‘The House of Spirits’ in Watauga Classroom

Nov. 6, 2013: Parents Opposed To ‘The House of Spirits’ Speak During School Board Meeting: ‘Not An Issue Of Censorship’  

Nov. 1, 2013: WHS Teachers Defend “The House Of Spirits,” Concerned Parent Moves To File Appeal To Review Committee