According to a judge, a mayor has demanded the resignation of all the five school board members of his town in Ohio or face legal consequences due to the high school course material that suggests “child pornography.”
During a board of education meeting, Mayor Craig Shubert of Hudson, Ohio made a statement after complaints from several parents about the content of some writing prompts included in the book titled “64 Things to Write About” given to the high school students taking up Writing in the Liberal Arts II as a college credit course.
According to the parents, lewd prompts were assigned to students such as “write a sex scene you wouldn’t show your mom,” and “rewrite the sex scene from above into one that you’d let your mom read.”
Students were also asked to drink a beer and write a description of how it tastes. These writing prompts were not appropriate for high school students as expressed by the parents.
The content “appalled” one speaker that he wanted the classrooms to have cameras so that parents can monitor the topics being taught to the students. Another speaker expressed his disgust on the said material and added that it amounted to “grooming.”
Superintendent Phil Herman said in a prepared statement that the writing prompts considered as “inappropriate and offensive” were part of a supplemental material used in the high school senior-level 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,” Herman said. “It is important to note that at no time were any of these inappropriate writing prompts assigned as part of the class.”
Brian Wilch, the high school principal, said the class offered is a collaboration with Hiram College but is instructed at their high school. He added that in the past, the book “642 Things” has already been used.
Wilch apologized with his team to the parents on Monday according to their statement to the board. A replacement material is still being sourced by the school for the high school students, he added.
“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,” Wilch said. “We feel terrible. At no time were any of these inappropriate prompts selected or discussed, but still they were there and they were viewable, and you can’t unsee them.”
The board received an ultimatum from Shubert on Monday night.
“It has come to my attention that your educators are distributing essentially what is child pornography in the classroom,” Shubert told the board. “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.”
Several members from the audience praised and cheered on his statement.
The mayor emphasized that he wants the resignation of all five members by the end of the month.
The criminal liability of the board regarding this matter is still unclear.
Ralph Lusher, staff attorney with the Ohio School Boards Association said, “we’ve never heard of criminal charges filed against a school board] for curriculum.”
Although he pointed out his lack of knowledge on the Hudson Board of Education’s process for curriculum approval, Lusher said, there are usually committees assigned to review the curriculum before it gets to the board for approval. He added that it’s “unlikely that something would get to them that is of such moral turpitude that it would bring criminal charges.”
According to Lusher, the parents will then be asked by the school districts to sign the permission slips for the College Credit Plus classes of their children in high school once the Ohio state House Bill 110 takes effect on Sept. 30. The permission slips containing the notification to parents about the mature topics of the College Credit Plus course are still being worked on by the Ohio Departments of Education and Higher Education. Currently, they have no requirement of such signed slips.
A separate investigation is ongoing Herman said, “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,” he said. “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.”