Education groups ask Florida to stop enforcing rule regarding classroom books

Florida Department of Education rule says all classroom reading materials must be cataloged
Dozens of books line a shelf in a Florida public school classroom during the 2022-23 academic year.jpg
Posted at 9:02 PM, Mar 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-22 11:31:23-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There's a new twist to the book challenges and book bans making headlines around the state.

Three Florida education organizations are petitioning the state to stop enforcing rules requiring teachers to catalog all books and reading materials in their classrooms.


Think about all of the books and other reading materials your kids may have access to in their classrooms. A rule from the Florida Board of Education says all of those materials need to be cataloged, just like all books in the school media center.

Now a legal challenge says that rule goes too far.

"The essence of what the petition is about is challenging the Department of Education's efforts to go beyond and effectively rewrite the statute," said JoAnn Kintz with the Democracy Forward Foundation.

Kintz is representing the Florida Education Association and others in a 90-page petition filed with Florida's Division of Administrative Hearings.

It's asking for two Florida Department of Education rules to be deemed invalid and no longer enforced.

According to the petition, the part in question deals with a state rule that says a library media center means any collection of books, e-books, periodicals, and videos maintained and accessible to students on the site of a school, including classrooms.

Read the petition here:

"If you look at the law that is being implemented — HB 1467 — it makes no mention whatsoever to classroom libraries," Kintz said.

HB 1467 is the law that promotes transparency and parental rights, allowing parents to know what reading materials are available and object to them if they don't feel the material is appropriate, leading to books being removed from school shelves.

"If there are books in the classroom library, they just need to make sure they are in the searchable database," said Jacob Oliva, a former senior chancellor at the Florida Department of Education, during a meeting in Tallahassee back in October.

When the Florida Board of Education approved the rule late last year, here is why leaders said it was necessary.

"Folks feel like there's a loophole that, if they wanted to push an agenda and bring in material that may be harmful to children, that they could do that if we did not include classroom libraries," Oliva said.

Kintz argues the rules lead to more censorship in the classroom.

"Our hope is this will result in classroom libraries resuming across the state of Florida. That it will alleviate the burden teachers are experiencing as a result of these rules," Kintz said.