HOWARD — An East Knox Elementary School language arts teacher has returned to work, following a period of paid administrative leave that began Sept. 19, according to Superintendent Steve Larcomb. The leave stems from questions regarding the appropriateness of the book “Forever” by Judy Blume being given to a fifth-grade student.
Maria Eaton, a fourth-year teacher with the East Knox Local School district, returned to work Monday after more than two-weeks of paid leave.
The district received a verbal complaint, Larcomb said, with issues regarding the book’s language and theme not being appropriate for a reader in the fifth-grade. “Forever” follows Katherine, a senior in high school, and follows themes of teen sexuality.
“This was not curricular assignment,” Larcomb said. “The book was not in our book fair or provided by the district. It came from the teacher’s own supply of books for accelerated readers.”
Larcomb explained that the paid administrative leave for Eaton is the only complaint she has received in her four years with the district and not something the district deals with very often. Larcomb said it is “extremely rare.”
Eaton received a letter of counseling, Larcomb said, reminding her to keep in mind the age-level and appropriateness of reading materials.
“She was in full agreement that it was not appropriate,” Larcomb said. “Upon further review, she agreed. I think sometimes we assume that Judy Blume books are innocuous and appropriate for all grade levels, but that’s not necessarily true.”
Larcomb also said that the length of Eaton’s leave, at 18 days, was due to scheduling conflicts during the district’s investigation into the matter.