Eighth-graders at a North Carolina middle school are getting ready to read a new book — and some police officers aren’t happy about it.
Bailey Middle School in Cornelius is moving forward with an assignment that has caused controversy, Principal Chad Thomas said Monday in a statement on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Facebook page.
Students next month will read “All American Boys,” a novel that addresses the issue of racial tensions after a violent incident.
It’s the book’s focus on police brutality that has caused opposition.
Mandy Giannini, a police officer and mother to an eighth-grader, said her daughter won’t be reading the book, according to WBTV.
“It is a dangerous profession, and no call is routine,” Giannini told WBTV. “And so my children have to worry about that, and they also have to worry about now, their friends may be thinking of me differently because of this book.”
The novel was published in 2015, the same year Freddie Gray died in Baltimore police custody and Walter Scott was shot and killed by a cop in North Charleston, South Carolina. They are among incidents across the country that have brought attention to race and policing.
Local officers who are trying to build community relationships don’t think the book should be in classrooms, according to WSOC.
“The last thing we want is kids to be viewing police officers as a social injustice that they can’t trust,” Chris Kopp of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police told the news station. “We want them to be able to go towards these officers.”
Though the school district received opposition, it’s not the first time “All American Boys” has been used at a Charlotte-area campus, the Bailey Middle School principal said.
Written by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, the book received the Coretta Scott King Author Honor in 2016 and was also a winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.
“As with all assigned books, this assignment was thoughtfully planned in accordance with state standards,” Thomas said. “While we respect every member of our community, we are here to build critical thinking skills and present alternative points of view.”
After the contentious reading went through a so-called “challenge process,” the campus decided to keep the assignment, according to officials.
Thomas said police officers are welcome to join the eighth-graders’ discussions.