Florida schools let parents limit book access. Few do.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Several Florida school districts give parents the ability to restrict their children's access to library books.
Several Florida school districts give parents the ability to restrict their children's access to library books. [ SARAH A. MILLER | Idaho Statesman ]
Published Dec. 8, 2023

The big story: If parents don’t want their children to have access to certain books at school, some districts are giving them the ability to opt out.

Some, like Pinellas County, allow parents to restrict access generally to the library, saying their children need permission to check items out. Some let parents get even more granular.

The Polk County school district lets parents decide title by title, each semester. So far, less than 1% have placed limits on their kids’ library consumption there, WMFE reports.

The state meanwhile continues to advance its contention that public school libraries are a place to advance government messaging rather than free expression.

A federal judge on Wednesday listened to arguments over whether school districts have the First Amendment right to remove books from their libraries as a way to present a government message, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

A group of Florida Democrats sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis urging him to end his administration’s efforts to remove books from schools, The Hill reports. DeSantis has called accusations of book banning a “hoax.”

Hot topics

Accelerated courses: The chairman of the state Senate Education Committee has filed legislation to expand dual enrollment opportunities for Florida high school students, Center Square reports. • The Clay County school district is growing its Cambridge offerings into all middle and high schools, Clay Today reports.

Free speech: Some constitutional lawyers say the Palm Beach County school district’s suspension of a teacher who sent an email to officials about the Israel-Hamas war was a violation of her free speech rights, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Legal services: A new majority on the Flagler County School Board continues to express dissatisfaction with its lawyer and is pushing to fire her, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Presidential searches: A state report recommends that Florida Atlantic University redo its presidential search, which has been delayed amid allegations that state laws were not followed, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Referees needed: To combat a shortage of referees, an Orange County high school is offering a sports officiating course, WESH reports.

Sarasota scandal: Sarasota County School Board member Tom Edwards says fellow board member Bridget Ziegler, embroiled in a scandal, is getting what she deserves, Florida Politics reports.

Transgender student athletes: The Miami Herald offers a closer look at the student at the center of the Broward County controversy over enforcement of Florida law barring transgender students from playing on girls sports teams.

From the police blotter ... A Polk County private school teacher was arrested on accusations of an illegal and inappropriate relationship with a minor student, the Ledger reports.

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

Before you go ... Hey, where’s Perry?

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Spotlight on education

The public is invited to a community conversation about the future of Florida public schools on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Tampa Theatre, hosted by the Tampa Bay Times. In the second installment of the Spotlight Tampa Bay series, Times journalists will moderate a discussion by experts, followed by a panel featuring students. Tickets are $20; $10 for students. Proceeds benefit the Times’ Journalism Fund. To purchase tickets, click here.