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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended November 10, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 10Nov00

By Kent Larsen

Resolution of Book of Mormon Expulsion Delayed As Lawyers Get Involved

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Salt Lake City Board of Education has delayed its investigation of last week's incident in which three students were escorted from their West High School English class, allegedly for reading the Book of Mormon during free time in class. The school district has started an investigation into the incident, but attorney Frank Mylar, who represents the students, objected to the investigation's format, in which the students were questioned in the presence of the teacher.

The students were escorted from their class last Tuesday after they brought copies of the Book of Mormon to read during a free reading time in their English class. The Board of Education says that the teacher's policy was to only allow fiction during free reading time, but the students claim they were never told that policy. Claiming that the students were causing a disruption, the teacher then called school security and had the students escorted out.

The incident became public last weekend when the students went to the newspapers with their complaints. The school district launched an investigation and early this week started interviewing students, in the presence of the teacher, about the incident. Meanwhile, disturbed by the event, parents of the students hired Salt Lake City attorney Mylar, who attended at least one of the interviews. The school then suspended its investigation. Salt Lake City Board of Education President Kathy Black explained, "We felt that we needed to have our attorney present, also," Salt Lake City Board of Education President Kathy Black said. "It has delayed (the investigation) so we can get all parties at the same table."

Mylar said he objected to the way the Investigation was being conducted. "If you're being glared at by the teacher, who already made the student feel extremely intimidated, it looks like [the school] is trying to squelch [students'] stories." He also questioned the teacher's claim that only fiction was permitted during free reading time, "It sounds to me like it's a defensive posture," he said. "That's apparently what the teacher is holding to, but it's unclear at this point whether the school and school district are getting behind that."

His clients say the teacher has a habit of making "inappropriate comments," in class. One student, junior Christopher King, who was not one of those who brought a Book of Mormon to class, said he was bothered by the comments, "I'd like this to stop . . . I would like her to keep her opinions and comments to herself so we can move on and do what we need to in English," King said. "I don't want to hurt her personal life or put her job in jeopardy, but I'd like her to respect our wishes."

A school board attorney is now working on a different format for the investigation. Meanwhile, only one of the students has returned to the English class. "All of them, understandably, feel extraordinarily intimidated and uncomfortable," said Mylar. "It's just like sexual harassment. . . . You don't want the victim to be around the perpetrator." And Mylar also says that the families of the students will file a lawsuit if the school doesn't handle the incident properly. He says the family is waiting to see if the school district "can reasonably rectify the problems that have happened, address the problems in a good way." If not, he said, "at least some, if not all" the students' parents would be interested in suing.


Families May Sue Over Book of Mormon Incident at West High
Salt Lake Tribune 9Nov00 D1
By Ashley Estes: Salt Lake Tribune


Lawyer helping W. High pupils
Deseret News 8Nov00 D2
By Jennifer Toomer-Cook: Deseret News staff writer
4 families may sue over Book of Mormon case


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