Controversial writing guest book takes center stage at Hudson School Board meeting


HUDSON, Ohio — Dozens of community members attended the Hudson City School District’s school board meeting on Monday to show their support for the district, two weeks after a controversy erupted over the use a writing incentive book that many parents felt was inappropriate.

Dressed in white, supporters stood, cheered and cheered as council members first took their seats and throughout the meeting. One mother, Karen Gondek, explained that people in white were united by a common desire to support the schools, even if they didn’t necessarily all agree on the book.

“It’s not about the book,” she said. “These are people who support our schools who want to come together as a community.”

At the heart of the controversy is a book titled “642 Things to Write” – a collection of writing prompts that had been used in Hudson High School’s college writing class for five years until parents are concerned that some prompts may be inappropriate for children. Before students could participate in the course, which is delivered in conjunction with Hiram College, parents had to sign a consent form acknowledging that it contained “adult themes”. However, the form did not detail these themes, which included sex, murder, and intoxication.

The book sparked a public outcry, as Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert demanded that school board members resign. He compared the book to child pornography and threatened legal action against those responsible for using it in the classroom. The Hudson Police Department and the Summit County District Attorney’s Office eventually released a joint statement ending Shubert’s threat.

Prior to public comments at Monday’s meeting, Board of Education Chair David Zuro read an open letter to the community that addressed the college credit class, noting the required parental waiver that noted that students might encounter adult themes. Zuro’s letter also mentioned the administrators’ quick response to the backlash and collection of the books in question.

Hudson High School Superintendent Phil Herman also addressed the crowd, noting the quick action taken by administration and staff after first hearing about the issue. He assured those present that a review of the situation by an independent consultant should be completed in several weeks and that the council will use the results to determine follow-up action.

Dozens of past and present teachers, parents, community members and students spoke during a 2-hour public commentary portion of the meeting. Among them were former Hudson mayors Bill Currin and David Basil, who received a standing ovation with their joint statement to council, urging citizens to refrain from baseless accusations and support teachers, administration, staff and board members.

Marty Bach, a social studies teacher at Hudson High School who teaches a class on relationships and consent issues, sexual assault, toxic relationships and dating violence, made an impassioned statement about his concerns, noting that parents have always been aware of and supportive of the content included. in his journey.

“I’ve always been proud of my lessons, but now I question things on a daily basis,” Bach said. “Should I completely remove the unity from relationships and let these young adults navigate the world of Tinder, looking for arrangements, college nights, without any thoughtful discussion? … In social studies, we discussed the need for people to stand up when others are unfairly attacked – to be a bystander and not a bystander Well how can I in good conscience tell my students to be honest and not to do the same ?”

Matthew Constable, a 2018 graduate who took the writing course, said he enjoyed it and considered the book a good tool to promote critical thinking and creative writing. Adults could be heard in the back of the auditorium booing; one of them came out during his remarks.

“Prompts, which some find distasteful, were never used or discussed in class, and frankly, I’m disappointed to see so many people wasting their time arguing over something that’s such a small issue,” said declared Constable. “I believe it is correct to review the book to determine if it is appropriate for use in school. But asking the entire school board to resign under a baseless threat of criminal prosecution is completely childish, irresponsible, unnecessary, and honestly, it’s disturbing.

The majority of public comments, which also included remarks about student masking, supported the school, although a number of people spoke out against the administration and school board, calling the book pornographic. They thanked Shubert for standing up for his values ​​and called themselves a silent majority.

“If you want to take a writing class, there’s little need to write a story about ‘sex you wouldn’t tell your mom about,’ or ‘your first orgasm,'” Bill Klausman told Cleveland. com, referring to two of the questionable prompts in the book. “If they knew what was going on, they should be fired.”

Jennifer Scheeser has condemned the personal personality attacks and accusations of pedophilia and child pornography. She shared stories of students talking about saving their favorite teachers and talking about ‘out of control’ parents.

“I had a friend who told me she was going to retire as soon as possible and another friend who was a recent Hudson grad said, ‘I’m changing my major. I don’t want to be a teacher anymore. I just want to help the kids, but people are going to want to destroy me,” Scheeser said at the reunion.

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