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Hudson school board members say they've received threats because of writing prompt book controversy

Hudson High School
Posted at 2:52 PM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 18:33:57-04

HUDSON, Ohio — Members of Hudson City School District’s Board of Education received threatening emails in the wake of the controversy over a writing prompt book that contains topics some consider inappropriate for high school students, district officials and Hudson police confirmed.

Board members "received some emails that were of a threatening nature," Jennifer Reece, manager of communications for the district, told News 5 partner the Akron-Beacon Journal. "We've since alerted Hudson police and sent those emails on to them."

Reece said that while she did not know the specific content of the emails, she said the board "felt it was a significant enough threat to tell Hudson police."

The controversy stems from writing prompts found in the book “642 Things to Write About,” which, until Monday, was being used by students in Hudson’s high school senior College Credit Plus writing class.

RELATED: Writing prompt book sparks controversy among parents in Hudson

The book went unnoticed for years until some parents and administrators recently discovered the prompts inside. After that, Facebook groups were flooded with concerns about the book, and an email went out letting parents know the school administration was taking the books away.

During a school board meeting on Monday, parents grilled the board about how the book came to be taught at the high school.

Parent Monica Haven read aloud some of the prompts from the book, which included: “Write a sex scene you wouldn't show your mom. Rewrite the sex scene from above into one that you let your mom read. Describe your favorite part of a man's body using only verbs.”

Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert was also in attendance at the school board meeting. He likened the book to child pornography and delivered a scathing message to the board.

“It has come to my attention that your educators are distributing essentially what is child pornography in the classroom. I've spoken to a judge this evening. She's already confirmed that. So I'm going to give you a simple choice. You either choose to resign from this Board of Education or you will be charged,” said Shubert.

The Hudson Police Department was made aware of allegations of child pornography leveled by Shubert after the board meeting, police said in a joint news release with the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, which reviewed the materials related to the meeting and Shubert’s accusations.

“These allegations have resulted in threats being made against board members, faculty and administrators in Hudson. Those threats must stop,” said Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh. “Under Ohio law, a prompt about a fictional writing is not child pornography. We will review this matter and determine if there is a factual basis that any laws were broken either by the writing prompts or the threats that have been made.”

RELATED: Some parents in Hudson believe outrage over writing prompt book is out of line

During the board meeting, Principal Brian Wilch apologized for the book’s use in the classroom.

“We did not exercise due diligence when we reviewed this resource. And as a result, we overlooked several writing prompts among the 642 that are not appropriate for our high school audience,” said Wilch.

A statement from Hudson City Schools Superintendent Phil Herman confirmed the district determined the book should not be in the hands of students, and the books were collected from the students enrolled in the course on Monday.

Herman said that none of the inappropriate writing prompts were assigned as part of the class, and an independent investigation is underway to determine how the materials were approved for the class.

"It is clear that as a district we did not properly review this resource, and for that, we sincerely apologize,” the statement reads. “We take great pride in the instructional experience of our students and take very seriously anything that negatively impacts our mission to provide an educational program that provides for the development of each child in a safe, nurturing environment.”

RELATED: Some parents in Hudson believe outrage over writing prompt book is out of line