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Summit County investigation criticizes Hudson mayor for 'reckless' comments about controversial writing prompt book

There was 'a significant lapse of judgment' by Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert in calling the journal 'child pornography' and threatening to charge school board members.

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

An investigation into comments made by the mayor of Hudson as part of a controversial book being used in a high school writing class has been completed by the Summit County Prosecutor's Office.

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 a Hudson Board of Education meeting in September, Mayor Craig 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.”

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh says while her review did not find sufficient evidence to prove violations of laws beyond a reasonable doubt, it was determined there was a significant lapse of judgment by Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert.

“As a prosecutor and a mother, I am always concerned about claims of individuals being involved in child pornography. However, in this case, these allegations were false and caused numerous public servants to be victimized,” said Prosecutor Walsh.

In her report to Hudson Police Chief Perry Tabak, Walsh noted that as a result of Shubert's statement, members of the Hudson Board of Education and administrators at Hudson High School have received numerous threatening and profane phone calls and emails. But while Shubert's comments were deemed as "ill-advised" and "inappropriate," Walsh says there was not sufficient evidence to file criminal charges.

You can read the full report below:

“While my office’s report into this matter may seem harsh, the reckless conduct by Hudson’s Mayor resulted in threats, fear, and hate-filled words from around the country. The people behind those threats were uneducated about the matter and accepted the word of Mayor Shubert because of his elected position, not because of any fact. What makes this worse is that after the Mayor was advised he was wrong, he participated in a video with an Ohio Senate candidate, which was shared on social media and promoted these false theories. That video makes it look like this was all a staged, despicable political stunt intended to affect the outcome of an upcoming election and that is shameful," Walsh added in a release.

The district says it was first made aware of the content of "624 Things to Write About" on September 10. A spokeswoman said that the book is one of several used in a College Credit Plus or CCP course  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.”

Previous Reporting:

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