Apologies for “unfortunate event” at Decatur High

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 5, 2014
A photo of Lauren Myracle from the April 29 event posted to Tumblr by author Len Vlahos. This image has been cropped to avoid identifying DHS students.

A photo of Lauren Myracle from the Aug. 29 event posted to Tumblr by author Len Vlahos. This image has been cropped to avoid identifying DHS students.

Decatur High School Principal Noel L. Maloof sent a note apologizing to parents for an “unfortunate event” involving a Decatur Book Festival author who spoke to ninth grade students on Aug. 29.

What was the unfortunate event? According to a Decatur High School parent whose son attended the event, young adult novelist Lauren Myracle said something that caused a stir. Other sources provided details that backed up that account, but declined to specifically name the author.

Decaturish.com hasn’t been able to confirm precisely what was said, but both the Decatur Book Festival and Education Foundation apologized for it, according to Maloof’s note.

“I am confident that this was an event that was out of the norm and do not expect to be faced with this again,” Maloof wrote. “We appreciate your continued support of Decatur High School and its staff.”

City Schools of Decatur provided a copy of the note, which was also sent home to parents. It discusses the incident in vague terms and avoids language that could potentially identify the author involved.

“This year the author’s presentation strayed from the agreed upon format and discussed topics which were not approved,” Maloof wrote.

One parent who received it contacted us wondering what Maloof was talking about. The note is reprinted at the end of this story.

Myracle did not return messages seeking comment. She is best known for her “Internet Girls” book series. She’s twice earned a No.1 spot on the American Library Association’s list of books that are “frequently challenged” by people who want them removed from school libraries.

Len Vlahos, author of “The Scar Boys,” also spoke during the Aug. 29 presentation at Decatur High. He didn’t know about the letter until Decaturish contacted him.

“The teachers and librarians in the room didn’t seem put out by the kind of conversations we were having,” he said. “I am surprised by this.”

City Schools of Decatur Spokesperson Courtney Burnett didn’t know what the author had said and declined to identify her. She said the school did not pick the authors, referring questions to the Decatur Education Foundation and Decatur Book Festival sponsors. She said she was told that the organizer of the event called the author’s publicist. The Education Foundation did not return a call seeking comment.

Daren Wang, Executive Director of the Book Festival, confirmed that he had heard what happened, but declined to go into detail.

“To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t in the room,” Wang said. “I haven’t heard a full report of what was said. I know the author that did say it. I know that it upset some people, upset the people that were working on the festival that were in the room.”

The parent who spoke to Decaturish about the event relayed what her son told her Myracle said, but the exact quote couldn’t be confirmed. She said that many parents may not even know anything happened because their children didn’t give them the note.

“One of my friends didn’t get the note. The other friend didn’t get the note,” the parent said. “I think the kids probably were embarrassed because they don’t want to talk about it with their parents.”

Here is the full letter from the Principal Maloof:

Dear 9th Grade Parents,

For a number of years, Decatur High School, in conjunction with the Decatur Book Festival and Decatur Education Foundation, has hosted an author’s visit for our students. These visits have historically been connected to a book that has been offered to our students as a reading option or someone who is a keynote author for the book festival. We have a long-standing expectation for all visiting authors that they discuss the writing process and how they develop their novels. This year the author’s presentation strayed from the agreed upon format and discussed topics which were not approved.  I have subsequently been in touch with the Decatur Education Foundation and Decatur Book Festival Sponsors to let them know of this unfortunate event. I would like to extend my most sincere apology that this happened and will work to prevent this from happening in the future. The Decatur Book Festival and Decatur Education Foundation also extend their most sincere apology. They will be working with authors and publishers to see that future visits are age and school appropriate for our students. I am confident that this was an event that was out of the norm and do not expect to be faced with this again. We appreciate your continued support of Decatur High School and its staff.


Noel L. Maloof,


About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • John Corry

    This is news?

    • A parent asked me to look into something and I did. It may matter more to some folks than others, but that’s the case with most articles.

    • NoNewsIsNoNews


  • lola falana

    it would be news if we could just know WHAT was said! lol, seriously, NOBODY could give you a quote?

    • I was told what was said, but given that we weren’t there, I think it would be best to give the author an opportunity to confirm or deny the quote, or get it on the record from two people who were there. (I don’t know if anyone recorded it, but that works, too.) I know who the author in question was and I know the letter was sent. Perhaps this story will prompt those in the know to release more details.

      • Chris Martin

        How about you post it here, and if the author disputes it, she can post her version here?

  • Ron Harris

    Well, someone said something. That much we know. Sorta.


  • Gigiphoebe

    How is it that the school won’t explain? That’s bad policy IMHO.

  • schultmh

    This is a great piece, like a master class in writing around a news-hole. Sincerely! I’m dying to know what the quote is. PM me if possible? I won’t tell!

  • Living in Decatur

    Come on!! Tell us what was said. I was so frustrated reading that article. Am off to search the neighborhood for a 9th Grader to put me out of my misery.

  • Chris Billingsley

    Thanks Danish. Very interesting story but also an unfortunate one for the teachers and staff who worked hard to bring the DBF to the high school and allow students an opportunity to have an in-depth experience with successful authors. It reminded me of the time when the DHS “9th Grade Academy” (now there’s a blast from the past) walked to the Decatur Library auditorium to hear a DBF presentation from a successful author of vampire fiction. After a very interesting talk, someone asked her about her experiences as a high school freshman. She responded something like, “I didn’t attend high school. I was home schooled until I was 16 and then entered college early.” She missed out on so much diversity!
    It also reminded me of an event at my high school, Saint Pius when the administration invited a group of former drug addicts to speak to us about the dangers of marijuana. I remember a student asking a long hair hippie type, who was chain smoking Camels cigarettes during his talk, “How do you smoke marijuana?” He demonstrated with his Camel and later during lunch, that’s all we talked about, “So that’s how you do it!” It wasn’t long before our experimentation began.
    But back to the post. Principal Maloof did the right thing to address this unfortunate event quickly. Maybe it will lead to a conversation among teachers and administrators concerning other inappropriate classroom and school wide activities during which controversial political and social agendas are presented to the students under the guise of toleration or the new buzzword, compassion.

  • william whitley

    all this secretive stuff will just increase interest in whatever racially insensitive or sexually suggestive comment she made.

  • John Powell

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all
    this non-reporting and dereliction of duty. 😉

  • notlivingindecatur

    A comment on reddit may shed a little light. If true, that’s ridiculous she would speak about such things. Really? http://www.reddit.com/r/Atlanta/comments/2fo3dn/please_post_what_author_lauren_myracle_said_at/

  • Jack Regan

    She has a tattoo. What the hell were they thinking?

  • underscorex

    Eh. They’re high school kids. If what was reportedly said is true, I guarantee you these are conversations the students are already having among themselves. The parents just don’t want to acknowledge that, you know, 15-16 year olds think about matters sexual and scatological basically all the time.

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