The superintendent of a Colorado school caught exposing children to lewd material, including the well-known offensive material in Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” is backtracking and apologizing for refusing to notify parents of the school agenda or giving children a chance to do an alternative assignment.
But he said he intends to continue using the offensive material in the district’s classes.
The controversy arose at Steamboat Springs High School, where students and parents confronted by the lewd material raised complaints.
According to a report from Fox News, two situations developed.
One was that students in a music literature class were ordered to review a song “that talked about sexting and offering sexual favors to a teen.”
The other was the use of “Howl,” which six decades ago was in court accused of being obscene, in another class.
The report said Ryan Ayala, the teacher who demanded students use “Howl,” later apologized to parents in a letter, for having students fill in the blanks to lines including “f—ed in the a–” and “c—t.”
Jeremy Dys, of First Liberty Institute, which had written the district a letter over the misbehavior of its staff, said, “In the age of MeToo and Harvey Weinstein, it’s hard for me to understand why Superintendent [Brad] Meeks would think requiring teenage girls to meditate on a song normalizing sexting would be acceptable. If they want to teach on controversial materials, they can, but they should warn parents and give them an opportunity to choose an alternative assignment.”
Meeks posted online a statement that “Howl” is thought to be “controversial by some” over the expletives “and portrayals and descriptions of sexual matters.”
He said his staff members apparently were unaware of the “proper procedures around incorporating controversial materials,” including opt-out options, and the school was working on that.
He apologized “for that.”
But he dismissed the situation as no more than “an oversight.”
And he said “Howl,” and its offensive features, “will continue to be part of the curriculum.”
Fox explained that one of those raising complaints was Brett Cason, whose daughter, Skylar, 16, was, without warning, subjected to the material.
“Skylar explained feeling guilty and shameful as her teacher asked them about the symbolism of the phrase ‘granite c—k’ during a classroom discussion,” Fox reported.
First Liberty’s letter had asked the school district to train staff in its policies so such offenses would not happen again.
The local Steamboat Pilot had reported earlier Jay Hamric, the director of teaching for the district, admitted Ginsberg’s publication was “controversial.”
That report also noted another parent, Ken Mauldin, approached the school board about the staff’s mishandling of the situation.
He explained the superintendent should have addressed it properly, but if he didn’t, the board needed to.
If that doesn’t happen, he pointed out, it’s up to parents.
Hamric praised the objectionable work as “an anguished protest, literally a howl, against the era’s soul-crushing conformism…”
Hamric was unable to say whether any disciplinary action was taken against the teacher.