HUDSON, Ohio — A book is continuing to cause controversy in Hudson.
The book titled ‘642 Things to Write About’ contains writing prompts with topics some consider to be inappropriate for high school students.
Now, the mayor is calling for the entire school board to resign.
But some parents say that’s only one side of the story and think the outrage is out of line.
“I just think it's absolutely absurd,” said Regan Raeth, a 2020 graduate of Hudson High School.
The book was used for years in the school’s College Credit Plus writing class, but was taken away from students Monday after parents and administrators became aware of some of the writing prompts inside.
One prompt instructs the writer to drink a beer and then write about the taste. Another said, “Write a sex scene you wouldn’t show your mom.”
“It was this small, teeny, tiny thing that we were exposed to maybe 20 minutes a week at max,” said Raeth. “You pick your prompts, you sit down, you write it, and then you put the book back. That was the whole thing.”
Raeth said her teacher only used the book a few times a week to help students get creative with their writing at the beginning of classes and they never used any of the more explicit prompts.
“We were warned about there being some explicit material. And she just said, ‘Don't use the prompts.’ And so none of us did. We all ignored it,” said Raeth.
The book went unnoticed for years until some parents and administrators discovered the prompts inside Friday.
Monday, some outraged parents grilled the school board at a meeting.
“Do not sexualize our kids,” said parent Morris Norman.
But they don’t represent all parents in Hudson, according to Regan’s mom, Erika Raeth.
“The reality is it's a college-level course. That's what it is,” said Raeth.
Raeth has another daughter, Anja, who currently takes the CCP writing course at Hudson High School.
She said she didn’t even know about the book until Monday when Facebook groups were flooded with the news and an email went out letting parents know the school administration was taking the books away.
“It's not something my other child ever mentioned because it was such a non-issue, non-part of the class,” said Raeth.
She said even if she knew, it wouldn’t have fazed her.
"I trust my kids. I know they're mature enough to handle that. They probably see worse things on TikTok on a daily basis," said Raeth.
Nor has it fazed other parents of kids in the class who she said have spoken out in defense of the book’s use on social media.
“It is a college-level course and kids need to have a certain level of maturity to handle that. And I think parents also need to have a certain level of maturity to let their children handle that because once you get to college, you're not involved in their curriculum,” said Raeth.
Now, with Hudson’s mayor and other parents calling for the board to resign or face criminal charges, the Raeth family thinks this has all gone too far.
"I've heard mention of, like, 'We shouldn't offer these classes at all.' So then then they're taking away an opportunity for these children to have college credit," said Raeth.
Even though Regan Raeth only graduated last year, she's already a second-semester junior at Kent State University. She was able to get those credits by taking the College Credit Plus and AP courses.
The Raeths are also concerned about the teacher who oversees the writing course at Hudson High School.
“The teacher is wonderful and it seems like the teacher is being vilified a little bit too, and accused of grooming,” said Erika Raeth.
"I absolutely adore this teacher. She is a wonderful, caring person who really cares about the state of the kids," said Regan Raeth. “People are just making up scenarios to get upset about. And it could potentially cost a lot of people their jobs or their livelihood, which is upsetting."
The Raeth family plans to attend the next school board meeting and share their perspective about the book being used in class.
That meeting is scheduled for September 27 at 7 p.m.
News 5 reached out to the Hudson School Board to get their response to the calls for resignation from the mayor and other parents.
Board president David Zuro said in a statement:
"On Friday, September 10, the Hudson City School District was made aware of writing prompts in a supplemental resource, a writing journal, titled 642 Things to Write About, that contains content not appropriate in a high school setting. The resource was used in a college level course at the school. Application for the course includes parental acknowledgement of a college environment that may include themes or content not found in a more controlled secondary school environment.
Even so, given recent concerns presented by parents of students in this course, the District collected the books and discontinued their use.
In its official capacity, the Board of Education will be ensuring that a thorough investigation and process review has taken place and will utilize the results of the investigation to determine any necessary actions to be taken.
While we respect the Mayor’s position within the City of Hudson, in accordance with the State laws of Ohio, the supervision of the public schools of this District is the responsibility of the Board of Education. At this time, no Board of Education member has indicated any intention to resign."
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