D86's Wahl: PD's Movie-Related Email Investigation Ongoing, School Safety Not Threatened
The superintendent declined to get specific on what sparked the investigation, which police said stems from an influx of emails to the district regarding the showing of "American Beauty" and "Brokeback Mountain" in a Hinsdale South class.
The Hinsdale Police Department says it is monitoring emails to District 86 administration about the Hinsdale South movie controversy, but District 86 Superintendent Nick Wahl said there is no threat at this time to the safety of either District 86 school.
“We do not see anything related to this report threatening the safety of any students or staff,” Wahl said.
When asked if any administrators were threatened by any emails, Wahl declined to comment.
“This is an ongoing investigation and we can’t comment on it,” the superintendent said.
Wahl was asked if the district initially reached out to police about the email issue.
“We work very closely with the police department on any and all matters that we would deem something that would need investigation,” he responded.
Wahl did not say how often the police department performs such investigations with the district, but he said it’s not a regular occurrence and called the movie case “unique.”
Wahl declined to comment on any email or emails that sparked the investigation.
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Hinsdale Deputy Police Chief Kevin Simpson told Patch this week that the department was monitoring District 86 emails regarding the movie topic.
"The police department has been working closely with [District 86] administration following the receipt of many emails from the public regarding the content of movies that were being shown within the classroom," Simpson said in an emailed statement. "There is on-going investigation regarding the content of the emails which precludes my discussion of its details; however, I can confirm that there is no imminent threat to the safety of the school or the students based upon what has been reported."
The movies Simpson is referring to are the R-rated films, "American Beauty" and "Brokeback Mountain," which are being shown in a Film as Literature course at Hinsdale South and are the subject of the first curriculum objection from a parent in the eight years Wahl has been with the district.
Wahl said the district is not working with police in Darien, where Hinsdale South is located. It's only working with Hinsdale Police.
Burr Ridge resident and father of two Victor Casini said he was shocked when he looked at his son’s Film as Literature course syllabus recently and saw that students in the class would be viewing, among other films, “American Beauty” and “Brokeback Mountain.”
Casini called the two films “highly controversial” for their sexual imagery and obscenity.
“There are thousands of movies that could be utilized to achieve the teaching objective without venturing into this area that has a good number, if not a majority, of parents upset,” Casini said.
Casini brought the issue to the attention of the District 86 Board of Education at its Sept. 10 meeting.
Simpson, the deputy chief, said there are "a lot" of emails coming into the district regarding the movies, which houses its administration near Hinsdale Central in Hinsdale. None, at this point, have been identified as threatening.
The District 86 Board of Education will discuss its role in approving non-textbook curriculum materials at its Monday meeting. See that agenda here on the district's website.