Principal Carole Brink sent out an email blast Saturday saying she’s received complaints from a few parents about “Ignorance is No Defense,” a basic legal introduction written by former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan, which was selected as this year’s eighth-grade summer reading assignment.
According to the book’s website, the book is aimed at educating teenagers about Georgia law to help them make safe and informed choices.
In the email, Brink said she’s decided to add “Across Five Aprils,” a fictional story about a family’s struggles during the Civil War era, to the list, but maintained “Ignorance is No Defense” is still a good choice for eighth-grade students.
“The eighth-graders have read this book during the school year for the past several years as it supports two of our curriculum goals and one of our units for eighth grade,” Brink wrote in the email.
“However, I do sincerely appreciate parents bringing concerns to my attention as it is never our intention to provide material that may offend or be too graphic for our students. It is always my goal to listen and respond to parent concerns.”
Brink did not detail what the complaints were about in the email and could not be reached prior to publication.
According to the email, summer reading is not required but “highly encouraged” at Dickerson. Last year, Dickerson students did not participate in summer reading but many parents requested it this year, Brink said.
Paty Holdmeyer, last year’s PTA president, said she heard some parents thought the book was “too advanced” for the students so they asked for a second selection.
Neither Holdmeyer nor her son, a rising eighth-grade student, had an issue with the book. She’s even attended one of Morgan’s speaking engagements and said he was “fabulous.”
“My son read the book, he just thought it was a little boring with all the laws,” Holdmeyer said. “He’s happy with the second option because he loves to read and he’s read them both.”
According to the website, “Ignorance is No Defense” describes various types of crimes and their legal consequences, including those for drugs and alcohol, driving violations, sex crimes, harm to others and harm to property.
The book received a resounding recommendation from Jessica Eaton, former counselor at the Walker School, who, according to the website, says Morgan’s talk is a “must” for every school.
Also recommending the book, Frederick D. Jones, Kennesaw State University business law and ethics lecturer, said the book should be a required course for all Georgia middle and high school students.