TAMPA, FLORIDA — Days after a young woman shot to death six innocent people in the Nashville school she once attended, one Florida parent discovered a book series in Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) about students who bring assault rifles into the classroom and try shooting their teacher to death.
Assassination Classroom, a popular graphic novel series by Japanese artist Yusei Matsui, is available in numerous middle and high schools in the district. Currently, 45 copies from the series are checked out and presumably in the hands of young students.
The series has been made into a television show. A YouTube video with 8.5 million views provides the following summary of Assassination Classroom: “A powerful alien promises to destroy earth and the only ones capable of stopping this massacre are a class with the worst students of the school.”
The students tasked with killing their teacher are referred to as “misfits.”
“It’s stating the obvious to say that the theme of this book series is disturbing in light of the prevalence of school violence. While the books have fictitious characters, the settings are realistic,” Julie Gebhards, a concerned parent in the district, told The Florida Standard. “Why do we have 70 copies of Assassination Classroom in middle schools?”
Gebhards and her husband pulled their children out of the district after she discovered a trove of sexually explicit books available to young students. She has since launched an Instagram page exposing inappropriate books in school libraries.
“THIS IS AMERICA”
When another parent brought the series to the attention of one school board member on Friday morning, she received a curt response and was told to submit a book challenge.
“This is America and we do things through a Democratic [sic] process,” the board member told the parent. “The form can be picked up at your school.”
The book challenge process can take months before a final determination is made, and books remain on the shelf until the process is complete. On Tuesday, the board voted to remove a book from middle schools that teaches students how to use adult hookup apps and techniques for different kinds of sex.
Additionally, the parents who challenged the book saw their personal information – including home address, phone number and email – posted on the district’s website. Gebhards, one of the parents whose information was publicized, called the incident “intimidation, whether intentional or not.”
“AN ENTERTAINING ADVENTURE STORY”
School librarians aren’t the only ones who thought it was a good idea to give Assassination Classroom to students. The book is recommended for readers as young as 14 on Amazon. Despite this recommendation, HCPS librarians opted to make it available to 11-year-olds in middle schools.
A New York Public Library review called the first book: “An entertaining adventure story ranging from darkest to lightest comedy that will leave readers clamoring for the next books in the series.”
A spokesperson for the district did not immediately respond to a request for comment.