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Florida school principals could be penalized under proposed book rule

Jeffrey S. Solochek, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in News & Features

Bruce Harris, another speaker during the workshop, suggested the department needs to clarify the language. He noted that a principal might view a book as inappropriate even if the state does not, and asked whether that principal would be found to have violated the rule.

Kosec said it was a good point worthy of future consideration. He later added that, if the department receives a complaint about a principal’s action on books, his office would conduct a full investigation into how the decision followed district policy and state law.

Damaris Allen of Tampa-based Families for Strong Public Schools, who also attended the workshop, said she hoped the state will seriously consider requests for more clarity in what is considered inappropriate material, rather than keep its focus on punishing educators.

“I would hate to see a whole generation of kids robbed of the love of reading at a time when we’re struggling with literacy rates because of vague and punitive rules,” Allen said.

Kosec said the department would continue to accept public input on the proposal as it moves toward an April consideration by the State Board of Education.


Meanwhile, lawmakers have taken a step toward dealing with excessive book challenges from the general public.

The Florida House has proposed a provision to assess $100 processing fees for each challenge filed by a parent or resident who does not have a student in the affected school, after that person has had five unsuccessful challenges. That item is in a larger bill (HB 1285) that awaits Senate action.

The House also had included in its education deregulation bill (SB 7004) a proposal to limit non-parent objectors to one challenge per month. That line was deleted from consideration before the bill passed, though.

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