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Florida school pauses use of book about killing of Black boy by white officer

A school board in Florida has temporarily paused the use of a book detailing a fictional story of a Black child shot to death by a white police officer in one elementary school after complaints from a local police union.

The Associated Press reported that the Broward County school board had moved to temporarily halt assignments and in-school discussions regarding “Ghost Boys” by Jewell Parker Rhodes at a Coral Springs elementary school after finding that a teacher did not inform parents ahead of time tp allow students to opt out of the discussion.

In "Ghost Boys," a 12-year-old Black boy who is suffering bullying at school is killed by a white police officer, and narrates the changes to his community after his death. The novel also follows a friendship he develops with the daughter of the officer, as well as 14-year-old Emmett Till, a victim of lynching.

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The book was being discussed by fifth-graders at the school, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. At least one member of the school board wrote to officials at the school explaining that they did not view the topic as appropriate for children that young, despite a nonprofit ratings board describing it as appropriate for kids 10 and older.

“The timing of whether to implement this subject matter must include parents and ultimately be a decision by the parents of each student,” school board member Lori Alhadeff told the Sun-Sentinel. “I do not feel ‘Ghost Boys’ is appropriate for fifth graders.”

A spokesman for the local Fraternal Order of Police added in a letter to school officials that was obtained by the Sun-Sentinel that the book "is propaganda that pushes an inaccurate and absurd stereotype of police officers in America.”

The school board told the newspaper that while the assignments and discussion would be paused at the school in question, other schools could still choose to discuss the book given the proper time to notify parents before the discussion.