A school board in Florida has removed a fictional children’s book about a Black boy being killed by a white police officer after a police union accused it of being “propaganda.”
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes was halted after one fifth-grade class in Coral Springs, Florida, assigned the book without properly going through the district’s vetting process, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
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The book, released in 2018, tells the story of a 12-year-old Black boy in Chicago who was being bullied at school and was killed by a white police officer after playing outside with a toy gun. Eerily similar to the 2014 killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, the story is told from the point of view of the ghost boy who follows how his family and community are impacted by his death.
The daughter of the cop happens to be the only living person who can see the ghost boy and the ghost of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago whose murder by an angry white mob in 1955 helped spark the civil rights movement.
Children’s content rater, Common Sense Media, deemed the book appropriate for children who are 10 and older while also noting that parents rated it appropriate for kids age 11 and up. But, Paul Kempinski, the director of the Fraternal Order of Police wrote a letter requesting Broward County School Board stop using the book over claims it promoted an anti-police agenda.
He blasted the friendship between the daughter and the ghost and accused it of convincing “her that her father shot and killed him because her police officer father is a liar and a racist.”
“Our members feel that this book is propaganda that pushes an inaccurate and absurd stereotype of police officers in America,” Kempinski wrote.
School board members confirmed that the book was on pause due to it not going through all the steps required to get approved, Huff Post reports.
“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 newspaper. “I do not feel ‘Ghost Boys’ is appropriate for fifth graders.”
The book was previously used by a seventh-grade class in the same school district who conducted a Skype call with the book’s author.