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High school assignment tells freshmen to plan the 'perfect murder,' gives them steps to use: Make it 'look like a suicide' or 'accident'; come up with a 'good alibi'

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Parents of students at a Spokane, Washington, high school are incensed over an assignment given to a freshmen course that required students to plot how to pull off a murder and not get caught, KHQ-TV reported Monday.

The assignment, which was given to ninth graders in a language arts class at Central Valley High School, instructed students to put together "the ingredients of the perfect murder" and included advice such as making it look like a "suicide" or an "accident" and to commit it in a "lonely, isolated place." Now parents are outraged.

Brian Essl, whose son was in the class and told him about the assignment, was astonished.

"He told me they had to create and come up with a plan to murder someone and how to get away with it," Essl told KHQ. "Right off the bat I was, like, are you kidding me?"

After learning about the assignment, Essl posted about it on social media and then shared it with the local news outlet.

The assignment was intended to be a lead-in to the class' reading of Roald Dahl's short story, "Lamb to the Slaughter," which is the tale of a housewife who kills her husband and then schemes to cover it up — and does so successfully.

Students were asked to take 10 ideas provided in a handout, turn them into full sentences, and create at least a paragraph that briefly explains "the perfect murder," KHQ said.

The ideas for helping plot how to murder someone and get away with it included:

a) It should be easy to arrange.
b) It should leave no clues.
c) There should be no noise.
d) It should look like suicide.
e) It should take place in a lonely, isolated place.
f) It should not be cheap.
g) No violence should be necessary.
h) It should look like an accident.
i) It should be quick.
j) The murderer should have a good alibi.

Essl said he talked to other parents who were also concerned about the assignment. He added that it was "out of line" and that "an assignment like that for high school kids should be thought out more than that."

He was especially concerned about the other students' reactions, telling KHQ, "Writing something down like that and exploring the mind of a child like that and getting them to open up their mind in a way like that is just not something you should do. [My son] told me some of the kids were saying, 'We've already planned this out with some of our other friends.' That was disturbing."

After reaching out to the school, Essl said received an email from the teacher saying the assignment had been removed and apologizing for his discomfort.

Central Valley High School released a statement to KHQ saying the assignment "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." The school added that the situation "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."

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