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Florida school books get closer look as challenges continue

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
"Gender Queer: A Memoir," by Maia Kobabe, is among the most challenged books on Florida school library shelves.
"Gender Queer: A Memoir," by Maia Kobabe, is among the most challenged books on Florida school library shelves. [ ONI PRESS | TNS ]
Published May 4

The big story: The content of books in Florida schools has come under intense scrutiny.

It’s not just the math textbooks adopted by the state. It’s also books on library shelves that are not part of any assignment, but available for students to take home.

Some parent have complained that the presence of certain books is inappropriate, suggesting they’re pornographic. The Polk County school district is one of many that’s knee deep in the debate.

After a group challenged 16 titles, the district convened two review committees to consider whether the books belonged in the schools. The panels recently recommended retaining three more of the titles, all of which deal with LGBTQ topics, the Ledger reports.

The work is almost done. But the controversy isn’t. Read more from WUSF.

Hot topics

Taxes: The Pasco County School Board planned to hold a property tax referendum in November. It moved the vote to August, prompting some residents to cry foul.

H.B. 1557: A Duval County School Board member wanted the board to adopt a resolution fully supporting the state’s new law that governs instruction about gender identity, and to revise the district’s LGBTQ support guide. About 300 members of the public signed up to speak for and against the proposal, WJXT reports. More from WTLV. • A Lee County art teacher was dismissed after discussing sexuality with students, days before Gov. Ron DeSantis signed H.B. 1557 into law, WBBH reports. • Louisiana’s version of the Florida law was shot down in a legislative committee, with lawmakers arguing the issues should be left to local school boards to decide, New Orleans Public Radio reports.

School board politics: The Miami-Dade County School Board is poised to have more allies of Gov. Ron DeSantis at a time the governor is seeking to further shape the education agenda, the Miami Herald reports. • Leon County School Board member Dee Dee Rasmussen resigned in the middle of her fourth term, citing health concerns and also noting the political pendulum has swung away from her, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Superintendent selection: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure creating a referendum for Lee County voters to decide whether their school superintendent should remain appointed or be elected, WINK reports.

Student protests: The Flagler County School Board discussed proposals to clarify the district’s sparse rules surrounding student protests and walkouts, the Palm Coast Observer reports. Some members want to prohibit protests, while others spoke of protecting student rights.

Parent participation: The Sarasota County School Board was considering a policy barring parents from recording IEP meetings. The board reversed course after some parents protested, the North Port Sun reports.

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Other school news

The Bay County school district is hosting job fairs for students to find work. Turnout has been strong, the Panama City News Herald reports.

How does your garden grow? Students at an Orange County elementary school are getting lessons about agriculture and nutrition in their school’s teaching garden, WJXT reports.

Wakulla County students will get more job training opportunities. The Triumph Gulf Coast board gave the school district $20 million to create a new career academy, the Wakulla News reports.

Flagler County school and government officials were discussing an interlocal agreement regarding new construction its impact on schools. The County Commission abruptly killed the initiative, Flagler Live reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Nine-year-old Grace is battling cancer, but doesn’t want to let that take away from her school experience. That includes singing in the school concert. Her Pasco County school made it happen.

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Every Thursday, get the latest updates on what’s happening in Tampa Bay area schools from Times education reporter Jeffrey S. Solochek. Click here to sign up.

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