Highland Park Backpedal

Highland Park ISD puts banned books back on high school reading list

Highland Park ISD puts banned books back on high school reading list

Seven books that were yanked from Highland Park High School's reading list last week have been reinstated. Superintendent Dawson Orr announced the news in an email to parents on September 28.

It represents a complete reversal of his previous decision to temporarily suspend the books during a review process, a move that had brought swift national attention to the wealthy Dallas enclave.

"I made the decision in an attempt to de-escalate the conflict, and I readily admit that it had the opposite effect. I take full responsibility for the decision, and I apologize for the disruption it has caused," Orr said.

The temporarily suspended books were The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein; The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David Shipler; Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; An Abundance of Katherines by John Green; Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison; and The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls, who had previously been named as the keynote speaker at the Highland Park Literary Festival in the spring. 

Orr said that although "hundreds of parents" had voiced concerns over the aforementioned books, only one formal request was officially lodged. It was against The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Orr will appoint a 10-person committee to review the complaint. In the interim, students will have continued access to Stein's book.

"Our focus must always be on what is best for our students," Orr said. "We have made some real progress in building bridges and addressing a complex problem."

Highland Park High School
Highland Park High School has reversed its ban of seven books. Photo courtesy Town of Highland Park
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