CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – The Broward County School Board is halting the use of a fictional book about a Black boy who is killed by a white officer after a police union complained to the school district that it is propaganda.
The children’s fiction book “Ghost Boys” by Jewell Parker Rhodes was used in one fifth grade class at an elementary school in Coral Springs without going through the district’s vetting process.
Paul Kempinski with the Fraternal Order of Police penned an open letter, asking Broward Schools to remove the book.
“This book convinces its reader — the children of our community — that police officers regularly lie as they routinely murder children, while painting police officers as racists,” Kempinski wrote in his complaint to the School Board.
The letter can be seen at the bottom of this story.
“I was first made aware when one of our members advised that their child was in a class that was reading this book,” Kempinski said. “We were just upset that this book was being taught in public school to young children.”
School board member Lori Alhadeff told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that assignments related to the book were on hold, adding she didn’t feel the book was appropriate for fifth graders.
“Currently, assignments and readings are on hold until further notice,” Alhadeff said. “The timing of whether (or whether not) to implement this subject matter must include parents and ultimately be a decision by the parents of each student. I do not feel ‘Ghost Boys’ is appropriate for fifth graders.”
“Ghost Boys” centers around a 12-year-old Chicago boy named Jerome who decides to carry a toy gun around due to bullying. He is shot in a park by a racist cop while playing with the toy, and the officer goes on to lie about the deadly encounter on the witness stand.
The book was published in 2018 and was banned late last year by a school district in California.
Nora Pellizari with the National Coalition Against Censorship said the controversy surrounding “Ghost Boys” is not unique to Broward County, and they’ve seen an increase in books removed for subject matter of racial justice.
“We desire that this book is first vetted through the proper channels with the Broward school system,” she said. “A book being taught int he classroom is a great place for students to engage with ideas that they may disagree with or that they may need to think more deeply about, and we should be encouraging students and teachers to have those complicated conversations.”
Still, it’s unclear whether the book will be banned permanently.
“The school district said the book was ‘supplemental’ and could be considered by teachers addressing the issue of police-community relations,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.
BELOW: An open letter from the Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge District 5 to Broward County parents and public school officials: