• Police brutality book study to continue at CMS middle school despite backlash

    By: Genevieve Curtis

    Updated:

    CORNELIUS, N.C. - School officials said a controversial book assignment in Cornelius will continue despite backlash from parents and police.

    Eighth graders at Bailey Middle School were assigned to read "All American Boys,” which is about police brutality.

    Channel 9 reached out to CMS on Sept. 12 which told us in part, “The school did not receive any concerns from eighth-grade parents who received communication about the assignment, nor is the book on any ban list. Bailey Middle has invited officers to be a part of the conversation and looks forward to shared dialogue.”

    Channel 9 learned the day after our report that a complaint, in fact, was made to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools even though the district said it did not receive any.

    Police call the book reckless and tried to get it banned at all schools in the CMS district.

    “The last thing we want is kids to be viewing police officers as a social injustice that they can’t trust. We want them to be able to go towards these officers,” said Chris Kopp, with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police.

    Despite concerns from parents and police, Bailey Middle School Principal Chad Thomas released a statement Monday night saying the district decided to move forward with the assignment.

    The book was supposed to go through a 20-day review process, so officers said they don't believe officials took enough time to make a decision.

    [Prosecutors claim suspect was targeting police before killing man during 2016 Charlotte riots]

    This comes three years after civil unrest in Charlotte.

    The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police said the book doesn't belong in the classroom.

    “All of the officers in the area have been working very hard, very diligently to try and rebuild that trust,” said Kopp.

    A mother and 19-year veteran of law enforcement said she sent a complaint to CMS earlier this month.

    “I was heartbroken, first of all,” Mandy Giannini said about the book assignment.

    She said the book is one-sided and paints a profession in a bad way.

    “(My daughter) worries about me,” Giannini said. “My children worry about me enough as it is. I didn’t want her to be in an environment where she felt like she had to defend me or would be singled out.”

    But Channel 9 was told parents complained to the principal and officers weren't consulted.

    “We feel the officers should have been at the forefront of this,” said Kopp.

    One parent told Channel 9 that CMS needs to reevaluate using the book.

    “It’s the whole school district's problem,” said parent Mitch Hudgens.

    A mother said the book's topic is important.

    “It’s definitely a major topic of discussion amongst everyone in America. Whether we talk about it at home with our kids at the table or whether they’re being spoken to about it at school, the discussion needs to occur,” said Tamia Julian.

    She said the discussion should include officers.

    “It’s a discussion that needs to be had between law enforcement and the community,” said Julian.

    Channel 9 was told the superintendent for the northwest region canceled the book study at Bailey Middle School as district officials reviewed the materials.

    Thomas said he plans to invite officers to participate in classroom conversations as the unit moves forward.

    Message from Principal Chad Thomas to the Bailey Middle School:

    The involved parties exercised their right to object to the supplemental materials through a long-standing process established by CMS and aligned with board policy. The process has been completed.

    As a result, we will proceed with the unit as designed. We will also invite police officers to participate in the classroom conversations. Thank you for your continued support of Bailey Middle.

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