The following letter was sent via email to all CMPD FOP Lodge members. The letter raises concerns about a reading selection included in a list of apparently CMS approved books for middle school students.
Early this week Lodge 9 learned of a book study Bailey Middle School 8th grade class had to participate in.
The book in question is titled All American Boys. The plot focuses on two high school students, “Rashad, [a black student] who is wrongfully accused of shoplifting and beaten by a local police officer, and Quinn, a white bystander who sees the beating and initially pretends he didn’t because of his close relationship to the police officer.”
Once we heard of this, the board and PIO- Kopp started making phone calls and writing letters to express our concerns with the book choice.
The letter read:
Dr. Matthew Hayes:
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police is requesting your immediate review and intervention of an 8th grade book study at Bailey Middle School.
The book in question is titled All American Boys.
The plot focuses on two high school students, “Rashad, [a black student] who is wrongfully accused of shoplifting and beaten by a local police officer, and Quinn, a white bystander who sees the beating and initially pretends he didn’t because of his close relationship to the police officer.” This book contains such explicit language in the first two chapters that the students will be skipping over this portion. The Bailey Middle School 8th Grade ELA Team told parents their child should purchase their own book on Amazon, supporting the cause. They plan to begin this book study in October.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg FOP absolutely condemns this book study. We agree it is important for students to discuss current social topics in order to develop their educational growth. However, it is reckless on their part to promote a book which highlights police brutality. The City of Charlotte experienced riots and civil unrest based on a justified use of force against an uncooperative armed suspect. Our officers were physically assaulted with rocks and bottles, some were even victims of attempted murder by protesters. Next week will mark the three-year anniversary of this event. We have worked extremely hard to rebuild this community’s relationship with police officers. This relationship starts with children at an early age to see police officers as a source of safety and not a cause of social injustice they can’t trust.
There are many social topics the school could have selected to achieve the same positive message, such as bullying or suicide awareness. Principal Chad Thomas informed us that no other topics or books were proposed prior to selecting this book. There are a number of great, bestselling adult fiction novels about teachers sexually assaulting students, a topic which is more frequent within CMS than police brutality is within Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
We are confident you can provide your leadership to these students’ education without damaging the image of law enforcement professionals in this community. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg FOP looks forward to your response in this matter.
Thank you for your time and dedication to our youth.
Dr. Hayes cancelled the book study. He wanted us to express to the FOP, this book study was never intended to upset the law enforcement community. He immediately cancelled the book study after being able to see the issue through the eyes of a police officer.
The board learned the book was actually selected from the CMS approved book list. It has been used before in CMS schools (he did not know exactly which schools have used it). In order to avoid a game of whack-a-mole from school to school, we are looking to pursue the CMS review process to have this book added to the ban list for all schools.
After Dr. Hayes decision was made, CMS wrote the following:
Reading assignments for CMS students are designed to inspire thinking, create self-awareness, and understanding, all in an educational backdrop. Reading assignments spark conversations , dialogue and discussions regarding real life instances and circumstances which can promote understanding and positive behavior. The school did not receive any concerns from 8th grade parents who received communication about the assignment nor is the book on any ban list. Bailey Middle has invited officers to be a part of the conversation and looks forward to shared dialogue.
The school did receive three parent complaints, per Principal Thomas as of yesterday afternoon. The letter was sent to parents without any form of permission slip or signature needed to verify the parents even knew about the book study. The SRO at the school has an 8th grader there, and he did not know about it. Bailey Middle never invited officers to be a part of the conversation, per Cornelius Police and CMS Police.