Principal Out After Parents Find Sexual Content in Book on Optional English Reading List

Principal Linda Ihnat was terminated after parents found sexual content in a book on an optional Advanced Placement English reading list.

On Thursday, the Paradise Valley Unified School District governing board voted to not renew Ihnat's contract. She worked at Horizon High School. Board members said Ihnat didn't inform parents about the sensitive content of the book, which meant she failed to follow procedure, The Associated Press reported.

The book is "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson. The book focuses on discussing what is known as "cancel culture," as well as how people shame others on social media. The book has profanity and references to bestiality and orgies.

"It is hard to preserve a child's childhood these days. Part of my child's childhood is probably gone now," said Thomas Morton, a parent of a student at Horizon High School, according to Arizona's Family. "As I continued on, there were was a four-page description of a fetish porn shoot that contained all kinds of pornographic elements," said Morton.

Complaints over the book began last month. Ihnat was then placed on leave, although the district denied confirming whether it was over the book, Arizona's Family reported.

On Nov. 16, Superintendent Troy Bales issued a letter of apology to parents about the book. He said it was not on a district-approved book list and was not age appropriate. Bales pledged to better implement procedures regarding informing parents about assigned books, the AP reported.

Bales also said the Literature List Committee would "review all AP titles being assigned in our schools," as well as review titles that have been approved in the past.

"This review will help determine if past approved books contain any sensitive content that should require notification to parents and administration," Bales said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Linda Ihnat, Termination, Book Controversy
Bord members of the Paradise Valley Unified School District governing board said Horizon High School Principal Linda Ihnat didn't inform parents about sensitive content in a book, failing to follow procedure. In this photo, high school freshmen and sophomores at Concordia High School using Apple iPads in the world geography classroom at the private religious school outside Austin, Texas. Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

Several parents and students — some with signs — showed up to Thursday's meeting to give public comment. Some were protesting and calling for the teacher who assigned the book to be fired. But others argued the sexual content was only a small portion of the book and teachers should be given more discretion.

It's not clear if the AP English teacher will face any disciplinary action. Becky Kelbaugh, a district spokeswoman, said Friday the district could not comment on personnel-related matters.

The assistant principal, Shelley Strohfus, will continue to serve as acting principal.

The news adds to an already chaotic week for Horizon High School. A teacher resigned after being accused of unprofessional conduct. Phoenix police confirmed there is an investigation but did not share any other details, KPNX-TV reported. District officials also declined to comment.