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Westport teacher placed on leave concerning reading assignment controversy



Westport Middle-High School (Jonathan Levi Architects)

A Westport teacher has been placed on leave after a parent expressed outrage concerning a book reading at his daughter’s school.

The parent, who did not want to be named, contacted Fall River Reporter after he said an English teacher read a book Thursday in English class at Westport High to all students that he and his daughter felt was not appropriate.

“My daughter was shocked and confused to why he was even reading anything like this. And all students also were in shock!”

The parent sent us an excerpt from the book titled Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood:

“Mary falls in love with John but John doesn’t fall in love with Mary. He merely uses her body for selfish pleasure and ego gratification of a tepid kind. He comes to her apartment twice a week and she cooks him dinner, you’ll notice that he doesn’t even consider her worth the price of a dinner out, and after he’s eaten dinner he f**** her and after that he falls asleep, while she does the dishes so he won’t think she’s untidy, having all those dirty dishes lying around, and puts on fresh lipstick so she’ll look good when he wakes up, but when he wakes up he doesn’t even notice, he puts on his socks and his shorts and his pants and his shirt and his tie and his shoes, the reverse order from the one in which he took them off. He doesn’t take off Mary’s clothes, she takes them off herself, she acts as if she’s dying for it every time, not because she likes sex exactly, she doesn’t, but she wants John to think she does because if they do it often enough surely he’ll get used to her, he’ll come to depend on her and they will get married, but John goes out the door with hardly so much as a good-night and three days later he turns up at six o’clock and they do the whole thing over again.”

The parent also expressed concern that the book talks about suicide and how to accomplish it by taking pills.

“Her friends tell her they’ve seen him in a restaurant with another woman, whose name is Madge. It’s not even Madge that finally gets to Mary: it’s the restaurant. John has never taken Mary to a restaurant. Mary collects all the sleeping pills and aspirins she can find, and takes them and a half a bottle of sherry. You can see what kind of a woman she is by the fact that it’s not even whiskey. She leaves a note for John. She hopes he’ll discover her and get her to the hospital in time and repent and then they can get married, but this fails to happen and she dies.”

Reporter contacted the school’s administration and received a response from Superintendent of Westport Community Schools Thomas Aubin on Thursday.

“Just to let you know, the district has been made aware of a reading assigned to students that was not part of the Westport Community School Curriculum. The Westport Community School administration will address this matter immediately. We appreciate the parental communication regarding this matter.”

On Saturday, Aubin issued an update through a statement.

“I am providing our school community with an update about the current reading assignment controversy, which is the subject of an investigation at Westport Community Schools. The investigation continues, and the instructor in question has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of our inquiry. I can assure you that I speak for the entire Westport Community School staff when I state that our students’ physical and emotional well-being is, and will remain, at the forefront of every decision we make. I thank you for your patience in this matter and will continue to update the community as the process develops.”



  1. Preston Alexander

    September 3, 2023 at 7:48 am

    Our children are exposed to the brutal realities of life in America on an hourly basis, from school shootings, to knifings on street corners, rape and so many other spiritually-degrading symptoms of a society in decline. I haven’t even touched upon the senseless violence they’re exposed to in video games, social media and Hollywood movies.

    At least in this story–which I agree is not suitable for younger adults, contains the essence of a woman coming to grips with the harsh reality of dating someone who is only interested in her body. That’s a tough realization to accept, yet fundamentally true.

    I would hope the remainder of the story reveals an empowered woman who realizes her self-worth and kicks this man out of her life. Life lessons can be brutal, yet if one can learn them through reading a fiction novel, perhaps that will spare them from having to got through it in real life.

    This is the reality our children face in today’s world; the world their parents grew up in no longer exists. That said, I would want to be the one to share this with my own child, not have them be exposed to this in a public forum where they may be unprepared to deal with their fellow students.

  2. Matt

    September 3, 2023 at 10:49 am

    The kid is in High School. Give me a break.

  3. Brian J

    September 3, 2023 at 11:29 am

    “I would hope the remainder of the story reveals an empowered woman who realizes her self-worth and kicks this man out of her life.” When she’s dead?

  4. Ellen

    September 3, 2023 at 11:31 am

    So once again we are reminded that suicide just doesn’t happen. Especially to children. the conflicts in the subjects’ life and her eventual solution to those conflicts are not worth discussion. not worth exploring, It seems to me that these parents have their heads in the sand, and are willing to stick their childs head in the sand as well… Let’s ignore anything uncomfortable… maybe it’ll go away… Grow up parents! there is an epidemic of teen suicides in this country, and pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t helping.

  5. Denise

    September 4, 2023 at 11:13 am

    I’m surprised by the comments here. Not at all what I expected. Especially when the mom said the kids were shocked and confused. It’s amazing that any of us adults made it this far in life without this garbage. If your a decent parent, you will teach your daughter to have pride and confidence in herself, and if you have a son you teach them how to treat a woman. And we are okay with the language used. I’m no prude, but really…the world is becoming perverse and confused.

  6. Tara

    September 7, 2023 at 7:16 am

    Westport is truly twisted.Parents have a problem with teachers but not a level 3 sex offender that is on school property everyday.

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