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Purchase of history textbook with West bio being debated

Purchase of history textbook with West bio being debated

Purchase of history textbook with West bio being debated

Spokane, Wash., school officials are debating whether to buy a Washington State history textbook that contains a biography of embattled gay Spokane mayor James E. West, saying seventh-graders may ask questions teachers aren't prepared to answer. Produced by the League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund, the book, titled The State We're In: Washington, was intended to educate citizens and students about the importance of state, local, and tribal governments.

The short biography of West on page 95 makes no mention of current sexual misconduct and abuse of office allegations against the mayor, but district curriculum officials were concerned about bringing up West in the classroom, district spokeswoman Terren Roloff said. The Spokane Public Schools curriculum committee is expected to decide in November whether to recommend to the school board the purchase of 400 of the seventh-grade history supplements.

The committee met in May, soon after The Spokesman-Review began publishing its series of articles alleging that West sought sexual relationships with young men in a gay online chat room and was implicated in the sexual abuse of two boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. West has vehemently denied the molestation allegations and has also denied any misuse of office. He has refused calls for his resignation and is currently the subject of a recall effort. "The group felt it was not an appropriate fit for seventh-graders," Roloff said. "They needed time to talk to teachers to see if they wanted to have that topic with that age group, the Mayor West topic."

Spokane League of Women Voters president Alice Stolz wrote the West biography, titled "A Big City Mayor Has a Very Big Job," before the West scandal broke. The book tried to represent a variety of officials from all over the state, and West was deemed a good Eastern Washington representative, she said. "I didn't know what to say when that news came out about Jim West," Stolz said. "I thought, Oh, dear, I hope it doesn't hurt sales."

Stolz said she was surprised by the committee's reaction. At least one school district on the west side of the state has agreed to buy the textbook, and another is considering purchasing the book, which is carried in the Spokane Public Library and several Spokane bookstores. (AP)

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