Appropriate for class? Parents upset over movie shown to kids

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

***Wednesday morning, School District 51 clarified the film shown in the class was a PBS documentary on Frida Kahlo, not "Frida" as parents initially indicated to 11 News. The film is not rated (NR). The parents did acknowledge the name confusion and said the film they have problems with is in fact the PBS documentary. The district continues to look into whether the film is appropriate for students. The following story has been updated to reflect this change.***

FRUITA, Colo. (KKCO) - A teacher at Fruita 8/9 School is coming under fire after showing his Spanish class a movie about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Parents say the film contains highly sexual and political content that isn't appropriate for school and they want the District 51 School Board to do something about it.

During a board meeting Tuesday night, they asked board members to permanently ban the film from all District 51 schools and look into taking disciplinary actions against the teacher who showed it. Though board policy does not allow board members to respond directly to complaints during meetings, district officials say it's an issue they'll be looking into.

Parent Jeff Leany says when he learned some students had complained about the film, he watched it himself -- and couldn't believe it had been shown in class.

"It demoralizes and decays the values we try to teach in the home," said Leany. "And that shouldn't be done at school."

He says the film contains nude scenes and has lesbian and communist themes.

"There should have been some parental consent involved and there was none," said Leany.

Leany and other parents met with Fruita 8/9's principal, who he says ultimately decided to pull the film from the school's library. Now they want the same done in all District 51 schools.

"The curriculum is supposed to be Spanish and obviously this movie does not depict anything that has to do with Spanish," said Leany.

District leaders say they plan to investigate the complaint thoroughly.

"When those complaints are brought forward, we have a policy that guides us in terms of investigating what the issues are, understanding what the impacts are, looking at the material, and evaluating that in terms of appropriateness," said Jeff Kirtland, spokesperson for School District 51.

Officials say they have removed teaching materials in the past based on parent complaints.

"Depending on what we find in this, we may take that type of action," said Kirtland.

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