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Banned dictionary to return to Riverside County school

Parents will get the option to determine if they want their children to have access to Merriam Webster's 10th Collegiate Edition, which was pulled over references to oral sex.

January 27, 2010|By David Kelly

After being pulled from the shelves for what some saw as racy content, Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary may have the last word in Menifee.

A committee of parents, teachers and administrators decided Tuesday to return the dictionaries to the fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms at Oak Meadows Elementary School just days after they were removed over complaints about entries detailing references to various types of oral sex.

"The dictionary will go back to the classroom but the parents will be given the option to determine if they want their kids to have access to that dictionary," said Betti Cadmus, a spokeswoman for the Menifee Union School District in southwest Riverside County. Students will take permission slips home and parents who don't want them to use Webster's 10th Collegiate Edition can opt for alternative dictionaries.

The controversy began last week when a parent complained to the school principal about what she believed was explicit sexual content in the dictionary. The books were ordered off the shelves until a committee could determine if they were "age appropriate" for fourth- and fifth-graders.

The move immediately set off cries of censorship among many, including the president of the local school board, who warned that banning one book would inevitably lead to the banning of more and more.

Cadmus said that despite complaints about the dictionary, no parents showed up at Tuesday's meeting to express any concerns. "The bottom line is the district followed the road map laid out for it in board policy," she said.

david.kelly@latimes.com

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