CORNELIUS, N.C. — Despite some objections, a Mecklenburg County middle school says they’re moving forward with a controversial book.
The book, "All American Boys," was co-authored by two men -- one black, one white – and published in 2015, a time when instances of police brutality were making headlines across the country and racial tension was high.
The book follows a similar fictional storyline, following two high school teenagers.
In the novel, a black teen is beaten by a police officer after being wrongly suspected of shoplifting, while a white teen witnesses the beating, but initially pretends he did not.
In a 2015 interview with NBC News, the co-authors said they wanted to create a work that contributed to the conversation about social justice and diversity in Young Adult literature.
Since then, schools across the country have chosen the book as a way to open dialogue amongst its young students. Bailey Middle School in Cornelius is one of them and recently assigned the book to its 8th graders.
Some parents and even some police are raising a red flag and have filed formal complaints.
“You know, we understand that it is important, especially for our society, for our kids to understand, but there are better ways to go about it than by selecting this particular book,” said Sergeant Chris Kopp, the spokesperson for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police.
Kopp says the book is violent, misleading and will un-do the progress he says the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police department has made since the death of Keith Lamont Scott.
“It really disrupted our community and all of our officers have been working really hard to rebuild that relationship and rebuild that trust and unfortunately this is going to set us back,” Sgt. Kopp said.
After the complaints were filed, the administration at Bailey Middle says they put together a special review committee to give the book a second look.
District officials say a Secondary District Media Specialist, who facilitated the book review process for the principal and his team, which consisted of the principal, assistant principal, literacy facilitator, 8th grade teachers across a range of subjects, two parents, two students, a police major from Cornelius PD and a police major from Huntersville PD.
After a review, the school’s principal announced the committee approved the book, and in a statement said, “while we respect every member of our community, we are here to build critical thinking skills and present alternative points of view.”
The principal says he’s also invited local police to join the classroom discussions on the topic.
“Can they ensure that same level of police involvement will be included at the 130 plus other schools that are within CMS,” asked
Sergeant Kopp, who added that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police will be considering further action to have the book banned in all CMS schools.