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'A prompt about a fictional writing is not child pornography': Hudson police, Summit County prosecutor investigating writing prompt book controversy

Allegations of child pornography have caused threats to be directed against school officials in Hudson.

HUDSON, Ohio — Editor's Note: The above video features previous reporting on this story

In the aftermath of Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert calling on school board members to resign due to a controversial book being used in a high school writing class, the matter is now under investigation by law enforcement. 

In a joint statement released Friday by the Hudson Police Department and the Summit County Prosecutor's Office, the agencies say police were alerted to the matter following a school board meeting on Monday. "Because of the close working relationship with Hudson schools and local elected officials, the Hudson Police Department has asked the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office to review the material," the release noted.

The paperback journal titled, “642 Things to Write About,” has been a supplemental material in a senior writing course for more than five years.

But during Monday's Hudson's Board of Education meeting, Shubert said he had received numerous complaints about prompts in the journal and told board members the following: “It has come to my attention that your educators are distributing essentially what is child pornography in the classroom. I've spoken to a judge this evening; she's already confirmed that. So I'm going to give you a simple choice. Either choose to resign from this Board of Education, or you will be charged.”

RELATED: 'Essentially child pornography': Hudson mayor calls for school board resignations due to writing prompt book

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh noted in the joint statement that the prompt was not child pornography and that the allegations of such have caused threats to be directed against school officials.

“These allegations have resulted in threats being made against board members, faculty and administrators in Hudson. Those threats must stop,” Walsh stated. “Under Ohio law, a prompt about a fictional writing is not child pornography. We will review this matter and determine if there is a factual basis that any laws were broken either by the writing prompts or the threats that have been made.”

Several of the prompts in “642 Things to Write About" caught the attention of parents in Hudson's district. Monica Haven read a few out loud at Monday’s school board meeting.

“Write a sex scene you wouldn’t show your Mom. Rewrite the scene into one you would let your Mom read,” she read, continuing with nearly a dozen more. “I hope each and every one of you is as uncomfortable as I am after reading that.”

Senior student Meredith Judson told the meeting, “The first day we got it, within 10 minutes, all of us around the room had already found the things out.”

The district says it was first made aware of the content on on September 10. A spokeswoman says the book is one of several used in this College Credit Plus or CCP course. It’s taught by a Hudson teacher, working alongside Hiram College. To register their students, parents must sign form indicating mature content might be discussed.

“Application for the course includes parental acknowledgement of a college environment that may include themes or content not found in a more controlled secondary school environment,” said David Zuro, president of the Hudson City School District Board of Education, in a statement. “Even so, given recent concerns presented by parents of students in this course, the District collected the books and discontinued their use.”

RELATED: Hudson school board responds after mayor calls for their resignation due to controversial writing prompt book

Zuro added that no board member has indicated any intention to resign.

According to Hudson School Superitendent Phil Herman, the incident also has prompted the district to investigate its approval process. "It is clear that as a district, we did not properly review this resource, and for that, we sincerely apologize. We take great pride in the instructional experience of our students and take very seriously anything that negatively impacts our mission to provide an educational program that provides for the development of each child in a safe, nurturing environment," he wrote in a statement this week. 

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