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Committee OKs 'Sandpiper' book Brookwood teen found offensive

BROOKWOOD (AP) — A Brookwood High School committee decided that the novel "Sandpiper," which a student and her grandmother found offensive, should be put back on the school's library shelves, but an appeal is being made to the Tuscaloosa County school board.

The board will make the final decision, probably in the next two months when the seven board members have a chance to read the book and research the issue, school officials said.

In September, Brookwood sophomore Lysa Harding checked "Sandpiper" out of the school library and refused to return it, contending its depictions of oral sex made it inappropriate for a school library.

Supporters of the book, which has been named a 2005 Junior Library Guild selection, furnished copies for the school library, while supporters of Harding and her grandmother, Pam Pennington, offered to pay the $25 fine for refusing to return it.

Copies have not been put into circulation by the school library while the matter is being reviewed.

The school's committee, made up of the school librarian, Principal Laura McBride, an English teacher, a social studies teacher and a parent, made the decision earlier this month.

In a letter to Pennington, McBride said that the committee decided that "no book is right for everyone, but the role of the school library is to provide choices for students according to their own interests, experiences, family values and parental guidance in book selection." She also noted the book received literary recognition.

The book, by Ellen Wittinger, is about a 15-year-old girl who has engaged in "random hook-ups" for oral sex, with an overall theme that oral sex is sex and has consequences, according to a review by the School Library Journal.

Pennington said she and her granddaughter appealed the decision to the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.

"I was mad (when the decision was announced), and I called and told them how sorry they were and how I hoped they could sleep good at night with their decision," Pennington said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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