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Teacher Criticized for Essay Topic

October 26, 1999

FRANKLIN, Ohio (AP) _ A high school teacher has been reprimanded for offering a list of possible topics for a writing assignment that included the question: ``If you had to assassinate one famous person who is alive right now, who would it be and how would you do it?″

Parents said they were outraged considering the string of fatal shootings of students and teachers at schools around the country.

``I think it was in poor taste considering what’s happened,″ said Valerie Ward, whose son is a 10th-grader at Franklin High School.

The issue arose from a single-sheet list of suggested topics for the students to write about in their daily journals. Another question that upset parents asked students who they would save ``if you had to lose everyone you know in a tragic accident except one person.″

Administrators declined to identify the teacher.

The school’s principal, Robert Leahy, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he met with the teacher and told her the assassination question was inappropriate. Leahy did not return calls to his office for additional comment Monday.

Administrators said no further action will be taken against the second-year teacher.

Questions for the journals were distributed at the beginning of the school year for ninth- and 10th-grade English students.

``You get them thinking about how to off somebody,″ Mrs. Ward said. ``I hate to think that kids have to think about these kinds of things.″

Another parent noted that students in some schools have been suspended for merely talking about considering violent acts.

``They mention the word gun and they’re out the door,″ said Beth Kinzer, who has freshman and senior sons at Franklin High School. ``She should get the same thing the kids would get _ five days’ suspension.″

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