Book discussing police brutality cleared to be read in eighth-grade classes after CMS review process

Updated: Sep. 25, 2019 at 1:06 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - On Monday, Charlotte Mecklenburg School Principal of Bailey Middle School announced the district completed a long-standing process of reviewing a book students planned to read, which parents had filed complaints about.

As Bailey Middle School eighth graders are set to begin a new unit in the upcoming weeks focusing on social injustice, part of that unit was students assigned to read the book “All American Boys” by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds.

The summary of the award-winning book lists it as a novel that discusses “the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.” That “violent act” described police brutality, which led some parents to oppose their children from reading the planned assigned book.

CMS says two parents filed complaints and one of the parents is a police officer. Due to the complaints, CMS began their long-standing review process of the book involving faculty members and community members; specifically with the district bringing in high ranking members of police from local law enforcement. The committee then reads and reviews the book to decide if they see it fit to be included in the students’ reading.

Bailey Middle School principal Chad Thomas posted this update about the decision Monday:

“Good evening 8th-grade families. This is principal Chad Thomas with an important update regarding the 8th grade assigned reading, All American Boys. As I informed you previously, there were some objections to the assignment. The involved parties exercised their right to object to the supplemental materials through a long-standing process established by CMS and aligned with board policy. The process has been completed. As a result, we will proceed with the unit as designed. We will also invite police officers to participate in the classroom conversations. Thank you for your continued support of Bailey Middle."

Board members at Tuesday nights meeting agreed with the review decision.

“It deals with contemporary issues that students may face," says District 4 member Carol Sawyer. “The book presents lots of different viewpoints.”

Board members and school leaders say the book opens the eighth-grade mind to start thinking about topics of social injustice just before they enter high school.

The district says at any point in time that the district uses an outside text, there is a permission slip that goes home with the student, and a parent can sign that and say they want their child to opt out of reading that text. The district says they then will supply the student with a secondary text and secondary assignment that goes along with it.

Since the book has been cleared by the district to be read and used during the upcoming unit, classes plan to start reading that book early October. The district says they’ve partnered with Cornelius and Huntersville police to bring officers into the classroom during the unit that way they can have an open dialog about what students are reading.

After the Charlotte Mecklenburg School board meeting Tuesday,

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