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Florida school stops police use of black boy murder book

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – Florida school board ends use of fictional book about black boy killed by white officer after police union complains to school district of “propaganda Anti-police.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Jewell Parker Rhodes’ children’s fiction book “Ghost Boys” was used in a fifth grade class at an elementary school in Coral Springs, Florida, bypassing the process of district audit.

A school board member said homework related to the book was on hold.

“The timing of the implementation of this topic must include the parents and ultimately be a decision of the parents of each student,” school board member Lori Alhadeff told the newspaper. “I don’t think ‘Ghost Boys’ is appropriate for fifth graders.”

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that rates TV shows, movies, books and other content for children’s development, says the book is suitable for ages 10 and up, in the fifth grade.

The book was published in 2018, and it is told from the perspective of a 12-year-old bullied black boy in Chicago who is shot dead by a white policeman while playing with a toy gun, reminiscent of the murder. by Tamir in 2014. Rice, in Cleveland.

In the wake of the murder, the ghost boy recounts how his family and community are affected and befriends the officer’s daughter, who is the only living person who can see him, and Emmett Till, a boy from 14 years old. of Chicago, whose battered death in 1955 helped spur the civil rights movement.

The director of the local fraternal police order, Paul Kempinski, has asked members of the Broward County school board in a letter to stop using the book. He wrote that he was overwhelmed by the friendship between the girl and the boy, saying he “ends up convincing her that his father has shot him dead because his cop father is a liar and a racist.”

“Our members believe this book is propaganda that pushes an inaccurate and absurd stereotype of the police in America.”

The book was pulled from a California school district late last year, according to the National Coalition Against Censorship.

The Broward County Public School District told the newspaper the book was “extra” material and could be considered by teachers who wish to delve into racial and criminal justice issues. But the district said the teachers who assigned the book failed to follow the parents’ briefing protocol to give their children a chance to withdraw from the mission.

It was previously used in the same school district as Pines Middle School, where a seventh-grade book club spoke via Skype with the black author.

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