Teachers receive threatening letters regarding book challenge

The Boone Police Department is investigating threatening letters sent to several teachers at Watauga High School concerning “The House of the Spirits,” a book scheduled to be challenged before the Watauga County school board later this week.

Via the Watauga Democrat:

Lt. Chris Hatton with the Boone Police Department said that several teachers at Watauga High School received several letters from an unknown individual upset about the book challenge which made them feel “threatened.”

“The language used in the letters can and have made people feel threatened,” Hatton said. “And that’s why we are involved.”

Hatton said specific detail regarding the content of the letters could not be disclosed but said the letters were only directed towards teachers and not students.

Watauga Democrat – WCS Superintendent makes a statement regarding letters sent to teachers

Watauga County Schools Superintendent David Fonseca was more open about the threatening nature of the letters in a statement released Monday:

Superintendent Condemns Threats to Teachers at Watauga High School

Watauga County Schools Superintendent Dr. David Fonseca has issued a statement condemning the anonymous threatening letters sent to English faculty at Watauga High School last week. The threats were made in connection with the use of the book The House of the Spirits in an English class at the high school.

Dr. Fonseca said “It is one thing to disagree with a policy or a procedure or a book used in the schools. It is a completely different and unacceptable thing to threaten someone because they hold a different opinion. This threat is a despicable attempt to intimidate a very professional and accomplished group of educators who deserve our respect. It is also a criminal act, and we are cooperating fully with local law enforcement in their efforts to find out who is responsible for the letters. We will support the prosecution of that person or persons to the fullest extent of the law. We urge anyone who may have any knowledge about the source of these threats to contact Crime Stoppers at 828-268-6959/ 828-737-0125 or the Boone Police Department at 828-268-6900.”

The book came under review in October after Chastity Lesesne filed an appeal to remove “The House of the Spirits” from Watauga High School’s sophomore honors English curriculum. Since then, two committees have voted in favor of retaining the novel.

The book will face a third and final appeal before the Watauga County Board of Education at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Margaret Gragg Education Center.

Update: Watauga community members, representatives of the NC ACLU, and North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti will hold a rally and news conference against banning the book before the Feb. 27 school board meeting. More info here.

 

Related stories:

“The House of the Spirits” passes second hurdle in Watauga High School challenge

Isabel Allende responds to Watauga County book challenge

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