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Writing prompt book sparks controversy among parents in Hudson

Writing prompt book causes controversy in Hudson
Posted at 4:42 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 19:30:24-04

HUDSON, Ohio — A book intended to prepare Hudson High School students for college now has parents in an uproar.

They said the contents of the book are inappropriate for their children and now, they’re demanding reform and transparency from the school board.

“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,” said parent Monica Haven.

Those are some of the writing prompts found inside the book, '642 Things to Write About.'

Until Monday, that book was being used by students in Hudson’s high school senior College Credit Plus writing class.

“Do not sexualize our kids! The raw filth that snuck past the gatekeeping functions of this board of ed. in '642 Reasons' was disgusting,” said parent Morris Norman.

At a school board meeting Monday, 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.

But that didn’t stop parents from grilling the board about how it slipped by the eyes of educators and administrators for years.

“The students were told not to take the book home. Why? So their parents couldn't see it,” said Norman.

“A parent found that book in their child's backpack,” said Amanda Kocher, vice-chair of Moms for Liberty Summit County, a group dedicated to advocating for parents’ rights at all levels of government.

Kocher said parents found out about the book for the first time Friday and it quickly made the rounds on Facebook.

While she doesn’t have a child in the district, she and other members of her group came to the meeting to support other parents who she said want more of a say in what their kids are learning in school.

“I could absolutely see the pain from that the guilt of feeling like they missed something,” said Kocher.

Also in attendance was Hudson mayor Craig A. Shubert who 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.

Hudson City Schools Superintendent Phil Herman released a statement to News 5 about the controversy:

"On Friday, September 10, the Hudson City School District was made aware of inappropriate and offensive writing prompts included in a supplemental resource, a writing journal, titled 642 Things to Write About, being used in our High School Senior College Credit Plus Writing sections.

The district immediately determined this writing resource should not be in the hands of our students, and on Monday, collected the books from the students enrolled in the course.

It is important to note that at no time were any of these inappropriate writing prompts assigned as part of the class.

An independent investigation is now underway to determine how these supplemental materials were reviewed and approved, and if any additional action should be taken.

It is clear that as a district we did not properly review this resource, and for that, we sincerely apologize. 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.

Again, we are reviewing our approval processes to make sure that nothing similar happens in the future."
Phil Herman, Superintendent, Hudson City Schools

But for some parents, that may just be too little too late.

“We don't know what's going on in those classrooms. We don't know the curriculum. We don't know what is being said to our kids. I demand that there be cameras in the classrooms as a matter of public record that we can pull and view what is being taught to our kids and what is being said to our kids. Because it's our right, I want cameras in the classrooms,” said parent Eric Durker.

Hudson City Schools confirmed that so far, none of its school board members have announced plans to resign.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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