BROWARD COUNTY, FL – A Broward County School Board has put a stop to the classroom use of a book about a black boy killed by a white police officer, after a local FOP pointed out that the book contained anti-police propaganda.
According to Local 10 News, the book, “Ghost Boys,” somehow bypassed the Broward County Schools vetting process and was assigned reading for a fifth grade class in a Coral Springs elementary school.
That vetting process, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, should have involved a determination on whether the book was appropriate for 10-year-olds, as well as an opportunity for children to opt out of assignments, given the book’s controversial nature.
The back cover of “Ghost Boys,” by Jewell Parker Rhodes, reads:
“Twelve year old Jerome is the latest victim, shot by a white police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a threat.
“As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.”
The Broward County School Board halted the use of the book "Ghost Boys" about a Black boy killed by a white officer after a police union complained to the school. https://t.co/ZGu5XnCmds
— 103.5 The BEAT (@1035TheBEAT) May 10, 2021
Education Week reports that the book depicts Jerome as bullied, and his solution for bullying is to carry a toy gun with him. The book also portrays the officer lying about the shooting on the witness stand.
According to the Washington Post, Rhodes based the story on the officer-involved shooting of Tamir Rice in 2014 in Cleveland.
Officers responding to a call encountered 12-year-old Rice, who had a toy gun that was reportedly “indistinguishable from a regular pistol.” Rice died in the officer-involved shooting.
A federal investigation was closed after insufficient evidence was found to prove willful violation of Rice’s constitutional rights. But as one might expect, the incident fanned the flames of racial tension between police and activists.
Florida Fraternal Order of Police District 5 Director Paul Kempenski read “Ghost Boys” after learning from a fellow FOP member that the book had been assigned to a fifth-grade class.
Kempenski told the Washington Post regarding the book:
“I think it really takes a very unfortunate and awful situation, where an officer uses deadly force, and makes it sound like something that all officers do daily.”
He wrote an open letter to Broward County Schools and Broward County parents, describing the book and pointing out the anti-police messaging it presented.
Recounting that the book depicts Jerome’s ghost convincing the officer’s daughter that her father is “a liar and a racist,” Kempenski wrote:
“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.”
Kempenski also pointed out how the book played fast and loose with the facts, thus pushing “an inaccurate and absurd stereotype of police officers in America.”
— The Hill (@thehill) May 10, 2021
“One such statistic as quoted in the book: ‘Did you know Black people are shot by cops two and a half more times than white people, but they’re only about 13% of the population. In 2015 over 1,000 unarmed Black people were killed!’
“To call this statistic inaccurate would itself be a falsehood, as these numbers are outright lies.”
“According to the Washington Post, in 2015 there were 95 people killed by police while unarmed. Of those, 38 were Black.
“To claim that police killed ‘over 1,000 unarmed Black people during this same time is reckless and ridiculous.
“The Washington Post also shows that since 2015, the vast majority of persons shot and killed by police were indeed White.”
A post by a Twitter user whose profile reads “Sixth-grade reading teacher” adds emphasis to Kempenski’s concerns by shedding light on the takeaways young students have after reading “Ghost Boys.”
— danaclutter (@DanaClutter) May 17, 2021
The poster shared writing assignments on the book.
One student wrote:
“I have learned many things from this book.
“I have learned that just because I’m a kid doesn’t mean I won’t get murdered or shot.”
“I learned that a lot of white people kill black people for no reason.”
Kempenski’s letter did get the attention of the school board, which took action to halt classroom use of the book.
Board member Lori Aldaheff told the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“Currently, assignments and readings are on hold until further notice.”
“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.”
Another board member, Debra Hixon, appeared far less certain about her stance on the use of the book in the classroom.
She told the Sun Sentinel:
“Is it one teacher? Do all fifth graders use it? I don’t know.”
She went on to say:
“Some saying it’s a great book and others saying it’s offensive.
“I don’t want to censor people on either side…. As a society we should just be kind to people in general.”
Nora Pelizarri, of the National Coalition Against Censorship, objects to the removal of “Ghost Boys” from the curriculum, saying her organization is seeing a number of books removed on the topic of “racial justice.”
She told Local 10 News:
“The book being taught in the 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.”
The future of “Ghost Boys” in Broward County classrooms is yet to be determined, pending an evaluation and the vetting process that the book previously missed.
According to Broward County School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood, since Kempenski’s letter reached the board, so far one parent has contacted the board in favor of the book, and one parent “wrote in with criticism.”
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Broward County’s school superintendent arrested for perjury over Parkland massacre case
April 23, 2021
BROWARD COUNTY, FL – According to reports, the Broward County Schools’ superintendent and the school district’s chief lawyer were arrested on April 21st, with the Superintendent having been charged with perjury in an official proceeding and the school district attorney charged with unlawful disclosure of statewide grand jury proceedings.
Authorities took 59-year-old Superintendent Robert Runcie and 72-year-old school district General Counsel Barbara Myrick into custody on April 21st, with both of the individuals facing third degree felonies that are allegedly connected to official proceedings regarding the Parkland massacre from 2018.
I’m asking everyone who follows me to share this story.
Three years ago a monster killed 17 people at my High School.
Local officials’ corruption allowed it to happen.
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie arrested on a perjury charge. Justice.
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) April 21, 2021
Back in 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had impaneled a grand jury in response to the February 14th, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed, and 17 others were wounded by a teenage gunman.
The initial purpose of this grand jury was an effort to review school safety in the wake of the tragic shooting, but over time the scope of the grand jury’s focus began to expand and included digging into areas of possible corruption and mismanagement within school district operations.
Law enforcement officials allege that Runcie had committed an act of perjury when delivering testimony to the grand jury on March 31st and April 1st of 2021. As for Myrick, authorities allege that she was improperly sharing grand jury information sometime between March 31st and April 14th of 2021.
While the indictments for the two individuals showcase the charges they are facing, the precise allegations regarding the suspected felonies committed during these proceedings are unclear due to these grand jury proceedings being held in secrecy.
Corrupt Broward Schools Chief, Democrat Robert Runcie whose policies caused the Stoneman Douglas massacre, and his agency attorney Democrat Barbara Myrick were both criminally charged yesterday for grand jury issues (perjury, illegal disclosures).
They should rot in prison.
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) April 22, 2021
As of this writing, even attorneys for the accused don’t exactly know the specifics around the alleged crimes committed by the two.
Runcie’s attorney, Michael Dutko, claims his client doesn’t know what investigators believe he “lied about,” adding that all they have as of this time is the charges levied.
Myrick’s attorney, J. David Bogenschutz, says they haven’t even seen the physical indictment yet for Myrick:
“I’m actually very surprised that any indictment or any information is out there that the lawyers representing them don’t even know what it’s about. I can’t tell you what the [indictment] says or comment on what it means at this point.”
The Florida Attorney General’s Office did release news of the indictments but noted that they will not be providing any further information as of this time.
Runcie and Myrick are not the first school district employees arrested and charged in connection with these grand jury proceedings.
Back in January of this year, former chief information officer Tony Hunter was charged with bid rigging and bribery. Prosecutors note that in Hunter’s case, he had allegedly directed a $17 million contract to a vendor reportedly operated by a personal friend.
Hunter had entered a plea of not guilty regarding the January arrest and charge.
Former Broward technology chief arrested in grand jury probe – South Florida Sun-Sentinel https://t.co/oY7296W6dK
— RED BROWARD (@RedBroward) January 13, 2021
Following the arrests of both Runcie and Myrick, School Board Chairwoman Rosalind Osgood issued a statement noting that the school district would “operate as normal under the district’s leadership team,” while this matter is ongoing.
Osgood’s statement further noted that the school board “will provide transparency, accountability and integrity as we continue to focus on delivering the highest quality educational experience for our students, teachers and staff.”
Lisa Maxwell, from the Broward Principals and Assistants Association, also noted that the arrests of these two individuals are in no way going to adversely affect school operations, due to the fact that they are district employees and not school specific employees:
“The district provides support, but the principals manage the schools and will continue to do so.”
Runcie’s legal representation, despite knowing little about the specific allegations lodged against their client, released a statement in response to his arrest and charges that proclaimed this is some sort of politically motivated stunt:
“It is a sad day in Broward County and across Florida when politics become more important than the interests of our students.”
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