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Ohio Mayor Demands Entire School Board Resign Over Sexually Explicit Writing Assignments

WKYC Channel 3/YouTube

In Hudson, Ohio a school board is making international headlines as the city's Mayor, Craig Shubert, claimed the school board members were distributing child pornography in the form of sexual explicit writing material.

The book 642 Things to Write About: (Guided Journal, Creative Writing, Writing Prompt Journal) is supplemental material for an advanced writing Liberal Arts II level class at the Hudson High School. The class is taken for college credit.

During a board meeting, several parents and students shared their concerns over the book.

One parent read a list of some of the prompts:

"Write a sex scene you wouldn't show your mom."
"Rewrite the sex scene from above into one that you'd let your mom read."
"Drink a beer. Write about the taste."
"Write an X-rated Disney scenario."
"I hope each and every one of you is as uncomfortable as I am after reading that."

You can see local news coverage here:

youtu.be

Other prompts included:

"A roomful of people who want to sleep together."
"The first time you had sex."
"Describe your favourite part of a man's body using only verbs."
"You have just been caught in bed by a jealous spouse. How will you talk your way out of this?"
"Write a sermon for a beloved preacher who has been caught in a sex scandal."
"Describe a time when you wanted to orgasm but couldn't."
"Ten euphemisms for sex."
"You are a brand-new suicide-hotline counsellor. Describe how you feel during the course of your first call."
"A roomful of people who want to sleep together."
"The first time you had sex."
"Describe your favourite part of a man's body using only verbs."

Another parent said:

"I was appalled when my wife showed me, and read to me a few nights ago, what our kids were being exposed to."

One student said the class had found the sexually explicit prompts within the first 10 minutes of receiving the book.

Police officer Erik Dirker from Stow even spoke up:

"Police officers wear body cameras to monitor their behavior, and they have brief interactions with the public."
"You guys have our kids all day and we don't know what's going on in the classrooms."
"I demand that there be cameras in 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."

Mayor Craig Shubert was met with cheers after he spoke to the board during the public comment period.

"It has come to my attention that your educators are distributing essentially what is child pornography."
"I've spoken to a judge this evening and 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."

However, WKYC Studios reported in a joint statement between the Hudson Police Department and the Summit County Prosecutor's Office the Mayor lied about confirming the potential pornography charges with a judge.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said in the statement:

"These allegations have resulted in threats being made against board members, faculty and administrators in Hudson. Those threats must stop."
"Under Ohio law, a prompt about a fictional writing is not child pornography."
"We will review this matter and determine if there is a factual basis that any laws were broken either by the writing prompts or the threats that have been made."

The district had been made aware of the writing prompts on September 10. Since then the board has collected the books from students and discontinued their use.

Not everyone agreed with the mayor's decision asking the board members to resign.

Jamie Blair of Stow said:

"Maybe they should take a step back and just re-evaluate the situation."
"I do believe it's something the parents should review and know about."
"Everything is so touchy nowadays; sexually explicit is such a big range of things."

According to WKYC Channel 3, for students to register for the class in conjunction with Hiram College, parents must sign a form indicating mature content may be used in the course. However, most students are still minors.

A student who is no longer a minor said they watched sexually explicit R-rated movies in class when she was underage at the time.

cleveland.com spoke with Monica Havens, a mother of a high school senior:

"We absolutely signed off that we understand these are college-level classes and that there might be adult material that they are exposed to."
"I am OK with adult content, but I guess it depends on your definition…"
"I don't know that even college students should be writing about murdering someone and how they would do it and why they would do it."
"Certainly there have to be better writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing."

Principle Brian Wilch issued an apology.

"There are times we need to take a step back, reflect and get better."
"We did not exercise our due diligence when we reviewed this resource and we overlooked several prompts that were not appropriate."
"We felt terrible."
"You can't unsee them."

Hudson School Superintendent Phil Herman said:

"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."

The board has made no indication of any members resigning.