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Parents raise concerns after Central Valley HS freshmen asked to write about 'the perfect murder'

A picture of the assignment sent to KREM 2 news shows students were asked to write about a "perfect murder" ahead of reading the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter."

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Some parents of freshmen in a Central Valley High School language arts class were concerned about a writing assignment given to students on Friday.

A picture of the assignment sent to KREM 2 news shows students were asked to write about a "perfect murder" ahead of reading the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl.

The assignment reads:

“What would be the ingredients of the ‘perfect murder’? Turn the following ideas into real sentences and put them in a paragraph briefly explaining ‘the perfect murder.’ Items should appear in your paragraph according to order of importance. There are 10 ideas here, so if you remove one, you have to add an idea of your own.

  1.  It should be easy to arrange.
  2.  It should leave no clues.
  3. There should be no noise.
  4. It should look like suicide. 
  5.  It should take place in a lonely, isolated place. 
  6.  It should be cheap.
  7. No violence should be necessary.
  8. It should look like an accident. 
  9. It should be quick.
  10. The murderer should have a good alibi.”

Central Valley School District spokesperson Marla Nunberg issued a statement in response to parents' concerns, writing in part that it "was not appropriate, was not approved nor was it sanctioned by CVHS or Central Valley School District and is not part of our approved curriculum." 

"It was addressed and the assignment was changed as soon as it was brought to the attention of administration and an apology was sent to the entire class last Friday," Nunberg wrote in the statement.

A parent shared with KREM 2 an apology the teacher sent to parents. It reads, “Yesterday I gave my students an activity that in retrospect may have caused some students to feel uncomfortable. Please know that I have pulled this assignment back and will move forward with my classes in a productive manner. I apologize if this caused any discomfort for any of my students and families. I love teaching Language Arts at CVHS and will work hard to deliver curriculum that is appropriate for every student.”

A parent of a Central Valley freshman who received the assignment said he found that it was in poor taste. Brian Essl said his son and some of his classmates were uncomfortable seeing their peers describe of they would commit a 'perfect murder' in detail.

"My son told me that a lot of the students did the assignment in class and turned it in," Essl said. "So, at that point, to me, the damage has already been done."

Essl said the teacher sent an email to parents that said another assignment would be handed out but many students had already completed it.

When asked if the teacher would face disciplinary action for the assignment, Nunberg said she could not speak to that due to privacy concerns.