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Queens Teacher Removed Over Racy Assignment

Somehow, 'The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow' Got Shelved By Sub
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Student Giavanna Grasso (credit: CBS 2)

Student Giavanna Grasso (credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — On Monday night a mom couldn’t believe her daughter’s shocking homework assignment. On Tuesday she went to the school demanding answers.

And, as CBS 2’s John Slattery reports, the teacher who assigned the reading is now out of the classroom.

Angry parents met with officials at Robert Goddard High School in Ozone Park, Queens, concerned over a teacher’s assignment which they thought was far too racy.

“They were appalled when they were reading it. They were like, ‘Whoaaaa!’” parent Melissa Naprawa said.

Her daughter, 16-year-old Giavanna Grasso, was supposed to be reading “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” for her honors writing class. Instead, a long-term substitute teacher, Nancy Filingeri, assigned a passage from the book “The Rules of Attraction” by Bret Easton Ellis, a novel spiced up with curse words and sexually explicit language.

“The homework was to find the most descriptive parts. The only descriptive parts were the parts where they were doing sexual things,” Grasso said.

A review by Publishers Weekly called the book “…adolescent fantasy of sex…” that “…manages to pack in a suicide, assorted suicide attempts, an abortion, and the death of a parent.”

The Department of Education said it was not on the class syllabus that includes works by Edgar Allen Poe and Ray Bradbury.

The book was made into a movie in 2002.

Giavanna’s mother found the passage inappropriate for 11th grade.

“I just don’t understand where the teacher’s head was in this when she assigned this,” Naprawa said.

The teacher was not at school Tuesday and was not at her home on Staten Island, where her father said he was unaware of the controversy.

“I don’t know anything about it. She didn’t talk to me at all,” Vito Filingeri said.

The Department of Education said that teacher will not be returning to that school and that her future remains unclear. The DOE also said the principal was unaware of the unauthorized assignment, which the teacher came up with on her own.

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