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Florida Board of Education Grants Authority for Increased Supervision of Teaching Materials

The Florida Board of Education voted on latest rules that can allow parents to appeal school district decisions on what materials could be utilized in classrooms or school libraries. But the results of the appeal, if a parent wins, doesn’t mean the book they object to will get taken off library shelves.

“It is not ‘Oh, they followed the policy, but I do not I didn’t agree with it.’ It’s have they got a policy? Primary. Do they follow the policy? That is it. It’s a really limited appeal,” said board chair Ben Gibson.

The brand new rule, required under HB 1069, is one other way for fogeys to regulate what their public school students can and can’t access at school and classroom libraries.

“The foundations may also protect parental rights and can provide an alternate choice to resolve disputes or objections between parents and the college districts,” said Paul Burns, Florida Department of Education chancellor for K-12 public schools.

Last 12 months, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Curriculum Transparency Act, which requires districts to catalog every book they provide and put a proper review process in place for complaints. DeSantis, who’s currently running to be the Republican nominee for president, touted the law as a technique to increase parental involvement in education and forestall “indoctrination.”

After a district has passed through the review process, the parent of a toddler who attends a public school who objected to materials can request a special magistrate in the event that they can document the district has not yet established procedures for material review or if the district didn’t follow its procedures. It would not mechanically remove a book if a parent disagrees with a college district’s decision.

“Relief available to a parent under the special magistrate process doesn’t include the removal of fabric or limiting student access to material,” the appeal form states.

It doesn’t apply to instructional material that has passed through a public review and comment process, like textbooks, which follow an adoption process outlined in Florida statute. The rule does, nonetheless, apply to any material available to a student in a college library, on a reading list, or utilized in a classroom.

The special magistrate will either be a judge with the Division of Administrative Hearings or a member of the Florida Bar in good standing, appointed by the commissioner of education.

The shape adopted by the board Wednesday says the request to appeal will only be granted if all other procedures for resolution with the college district have been used.

More: Grappling with latest law, fearful Florida teachers tossing books, resellers say

Critics say the special magistrate process leaves out parents who object to books being taken out of college and classroom libraries.

“That is skewing the method and limiting it only to the book banners, only to those parents who wish to see books censored and pulled from the shelves,” said Carlos Guillermo Smith, a senior policy advisor for Equality Florida, who can also be running for state Senate after losing re-election within the House last 12 months. “If we’ll speak about parental rights, let’s speak about parental rights. But we must respect the rights of all parents, including the rights of fogeys who wish to make sure that that their kid has access to a high-quality public education and access to the materials that they’ve a right to access as well.”

School districts across Florida have purged titles from their library shelves since fearing repercussions in the event that they are found to have books of their classroom libraries deemed “harmful to minors.” A DOE media specialist training published in January said a teacher could be charged with a third-degree felony if materials are found harmful, pointing to a law previously on the books.

Parents’ rights groups proceed to challenge books they deem “inappropriate.” For instance, in Leon County this past spring, a mother submitted a criticism concerning the book “I’m Billie Jean King” and argued it needs to be pulled from elementary school shelves since the book explains the tennis legend is gay.

The objection was ultimately dismissed, because the Leon County School Board voted to maintain the book on school shelves.

“This book isn’t about that she’s gay, the theme is about championing equality,” Vice Chair Rosanne Wood said. “And that is so essential for our young people to have the option to read and listen to.”

You’ll be able to view the document in a brand new tab here: http://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/politics/2023/08/23/florida-board-of-ed-approves-more-oversight-of-classroom-materials/70651805007/

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