SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – An assignment given to freshmen at Central Valley High School instructing them to list ‘the ingredients of the perfect murder’ is sparking outrage among parents.
“He told me they had to create and come up with a way to murder someone and get away with it,” said parent, Brian Essl. “I was like are you kidding me?”
Brian posted on social media about the assignment his child was given and connected with other parents who were also disturbed.
The assignment read, in part:
“Turn the following into real sentences and put them in a paragraph briefly explaining, 'the perfect murder.’ Items should appear in your paragraph according to the order of importance. There are 10 ideas here, so if you remove one you have to add an idea of your own.
- It should be easy to arrange.
- It should leave no clues.
- There should be no noise.
- It should look like suicide.
- It should take place in a lonely, isolated place.
- It should not be cheap.
- No violence should be necessary.
- It should look like an accident.
- It should be quick.
- The murderer should have a good alibi.”
“How can someone assign a project like this to a child,” Brain said. “My son is not one to come to me about things like that, but he was shocked.”
The instructions indicate it was a pre-reading assignment for the book, 'Lamb to the Slaughter.' The plot follows a wife who was able to cover up the killing of her husband. Brian says his older son took the same class and was never given a lesson like this.
“It even had bullet points like how to get away with it...and make it look like a suicide,” Brain said. “The judgment in that was so out of line. An assignment like that for high school kids should be thought out more than that.”
Brian says by the time his son told him about it, his child and other classmates had already turned it in.
“Writing something down like that and getting a child to open up their mind in a way like that is not something you should ever do,” he said. “(My son) told me some of the kids said, ‘we've already planned this out with other friends.’ That was disturbing. So disturbing.”
He says he did reach out to the school and received this email from the teacher that said the assignment had been pulled, and also an apology for causing any discomfort.
“She didn't offer any kind of explanation or reason, like what was the reasoning for that,” he said. “I could see if it was a college criminal justice class but this was a language arts class for (freshman.)”
Brian says he wants this to serve as a learning opportunity and also wants assurance that more thought will be put into what's being taught to our kids.
He says it’s unfortunate this is what his son, and others, experienced, just a few weeks into their first year of high school.
“How super uncomfortable for these (students),” he said. “I'm sorry they were put in this position.”
A Central Valley spokeswoman did release the following statement to KHQ, “On Friday, September 24, Central Valley High School administrative staff was made aware of an English activity given to a small group of students within a class, which caused concern for parents. The activity 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 the administration and an apology was sent to the entire class last Friday.”