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Florida schools grapple with new laws on library books, gender issues

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Shelley Kappeler, a library media technology specialist at Westgate Elementary school, shelves books in early August before classes begin. The Pinellas County school district is among several in Florida reviewing the appropriateness and placement of books schools.
Shelley Kappeler, a library media technology specialist at Westgate Elementary school, shelves books in early August before classes begin. The Pinellas County school district is among several in Florida reviewing the appropriateness and placement of books schools. [ ANGELICA EDWARDS | Times ]
Published Aug. 26, 2022

The big story: Florida educators have been trying to navigate new state laws restricting the content of books and lessons since those took effect July 1.

Lacking guidance from the Department of Education, it has proven a struggle for many.

Some LGBTQ teachers have said they are confused about how much of their own personal identity they need to keep secret to avoid violating the statute relating to the instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity, Time reports.

School and district leaders meanwhile have attempted to create plans that meet the latest requirements for selecting books for libraries and classrooms.

The St. Johns County school district faced another demand from within the community to remove books from its shelves. The School Board decided to keep the books available, WJXT reports. The Seminole County school district has temporarily halted all school book fairs while leaders figure out how to control the book selection sold at the annual fund raisers, Spectrum 13 reports.

The conversations have included much speculation and several rumors, as many observers anticipate the worst and make jokes about their expectations. One satiric list of Florida’s banned books, which is not real, continues to make the social media rounds as people believe it, USA Today reports.

Hot topics

Tax referendums: The Hillsborough County school district’s tax initiative failed by less than 0.5%, sending it to a machine recount. It happens this morning and is open to public viewing, WTSP reports.

Grand jury: The Broward County school district will hire a consultant to review findings from a grand jury related to school security and make recommendations, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • The Duval County School Board has asked the Department of Education to audit its police department activity to ensure it has no more problems with reporting of campus crimes, WTLV reports.

After-school care: A staffing shortage has limited space in the Palm Beach County school district’s after-school programs, leading to waiting lists with thousands of names, WPTV reports.

Teacher exodus: Educators frustrated by Florida’s latest restrictions and limitations on their profession are leaving public schools for other jobs, Spectrum 13 reports.

Other school news

The Duval County school district fired a teacher accused of hitting a student. Ten months later, prosecutors dropped child abuse charges against the teacher, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Administrators at a Lee County high school painted over a student’s “Back the Blue” parking space design. Now the school is letting the student repaint her spot, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

Schools have plenty of rules for students to follow. Teachers don’t review all of them with their students on the first days of class. The Miami Herald took a look at some of the more interesting ones in the Miami-Dade school district.

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Orange County students complained that they went for days without air conditioning. Officials said the problems are now fixed, WFTV reports

Don’t miss a story. Here’s a link to yesterday’s news roundup.

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