Questions, concerns arise after middle school teacher plays Netflix show in class

There’s more controversy over the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why.”

This time we found out it was played in a public school classroom without parents’ consent.

On Tuesday, the Department of Education sent out a note warning parents about the show’s content, since it depicts a high school student who is bullied, raped, and commits suicide.

After our story, a parent contacted our newsroom and told us her son’s teacher played several episodes in class.

KHON2 went to the DOE to find out how that could have happened without letting parents know.

The mother told KHON2 her son is an 8th grade student at Kapolei Middle School. She hadn’t heard of the show until he came home with the letter, so she was shocked to find out the teacher had played a portion of it for students in class.

The mother wanted to remain anonymous, but she told KHON2 her son informed her that he watched scenes from the show that depicted suicide, rape, and bullying.

“He told me there was some scenes of suicide that had been giving him nightmares, and he’s been suffering from anxiety for the past several days because of the show,” the mother said.

After watching some of the series herself, the mother contacted the principal, teacher, and the DOE superintendent.

“My question as the parent is what was the intention of the teacher by showing this show? We (my son and I) had to talk about all those subjects, some of them that I quite honestly was not ready yet to have with him, but I felt I was forced to have it, because I wanted to have a clear understanding with my child that these things are wrong,” she said.

We wanted to know if there’s a policy for showing movies and videos in the classroom. We also wanted to know if teachers have to get certain content approved.

We asked the Department of Education for an interview and received a response via email that said: “The school is addressing the situation and a counselor is available for students.”

“I want to make sure there is some kind of policy as far as what is shown or taught,” the mother said.

When we asked the DOE again about policy or teacher approval process for showing certain content in class, we were given the same response.

The mother told KHON2 she has been in contact with an administrator from DOE, who informed her the teacher admitted to not following protocol and is being disciplined.

The mother said she was also informed by the DOE administrator that teachers are required to get approval from the school principal before showing any controversial material in the classroom. Parents should then be given an option to opt their child out.

The mother said she’s hopeful this situation won’t happen again.

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