MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — As we start the new school year, there are new rules for how Florida school districts handle book challenges and book reviews.
The topic of book bans has been a hot button issue throughout the state that has only grown over the past year.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
Just how many books have been removed from school library shelves largely depends on where you live.
According to the latest documents, school districts in Palm Beach and Okeechobee counties have not removed any books.
St. Lucie County has taken one book off shelves and moved six to other grade levels.
Indian River County has removed at least nine books from shelves because of objections, with dozens more under review.
The Martin County School District has removed the most across our area, sitting at about 96 titles.
WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind asked new Martin County Superintendent Michael Maine about the issue.
"Do you foresee any changes to your process of how you go about this?" Susskind asked Maine.
"I think our process has been, from the beginning, following policy, following legislation," Maine answered. "We were the first district that really stuck to the governor's guidance and guidelines that were given from Tallahassee. The board is not going to change. We're not going to deviate from that."
Maine does point out the number of removal requests has declined significantly over the past few months.
Under a new state law, if someone challenges a book, the school must remove it within five days and keep it off the shelf until the objection is resolved.
If the objector disagrees with a school board's decision about a book challenge, they can now request the Florida commissioner of education to appoint a special magistrate to hear the case, with the district footing the bill.
"I'd much rather see my kid reading a book than on any device, TV, phone, iPad, or whatever," said Reagan Miller with the Florida Freedom To Read Project. "We want kids to read. So removing their access is not a good thing."
Miller worries what these new laws will mean for students.
"In theory, it sounds nice. You have this appeals process. But what it does is take the decision making out of our local control and takes away the ability for people to really, locally, look at what's necessary for a book in a particular school or community," Miller said.
The conservative group Moms For Liberty has been leading the book challenge charge.
"Until these laws came about, there was no real accountability for what was in school libraries," said Jennifer Pippin, who leads Moms For Liberty in Indian River County.
Pippin is proud of the work they've done.
"Some may go back on the shelves. Some may not," Pippin said. "But again, just having the transparency in what is in front of children is huge. And Moms For Liberty is absolutely proud to be part of it."