High school students from Brooklyn’s Midwood high school are taking a true crime class where teens read up on real murderers and mass shooters. Assistant Principal of English Suzane Thomas issued an edict to the school’s librarians last month that bars them from allowing students to take copies of the books home.
“I am requesting that the following list of books be placed on ‘restricted access’ to students,” Thomas said in the May 30 memo. “They have been borrowed by students in the True Crime class.
“In no way am I suggesting that these books be censored, as they are NYSTL [Text Law] approved by the DOE,’’ she wrote. “However, please do not allow students to take them home — they should be read in the library where they are supervised by a teacher or a librarian.’’
City education officials said the edict was given simply so every student could have access to the books.
“The books were available for all students to read and were kept in the library so that they could be accessible to everyone,” said Department of Education spokesman Doug Cohen. “Any other interpretation of the guidance that was shared is simply inaccurate.’’
However, It seems that some Midwood HS staffer begged to differ
The in-school-only restriction “doesn’t make sense,” said retired Midwood librarian Arlene Weber Morales, who was at the school when the crime course was created and admitted she had “mixed feelings” about offering such violent content to teens.
“The librarians order extra copies of books so students can take them home,’’ said Morales, who retired in 2015. “Don’t parents want to know what the kids are reading? I would order more copies of the books.’’
A current Midwood staffer said Thomas “clearly states that this is not book banning. But it is.
“We are waiting to see if the administration cancels this course, because most of the books used in the class are on the[banned] list,’’ the source added, noting it would be a shame if True Crime were killed because it is “a very popular class.’’
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Brooklyn/Staten Island) questioned why the class was even in existence.
“Sadly, this is a city in which criminals are sometimes placed on pedestals, and entrepreneurs are vilified,” she said. “How about teaching about civic and business leaders who beat the odds so they too can strive for success?
“I see why the school doesn’t want students to take the books home,’’ she added. “Parents will flip out.”
Thomas declined to comment.