Statewide teachers union, other groups file lawsuit challenging Florida’s library book rules

FEA calls the provisions “costly and burdensome,” request a stay on state enforcement

School books library reading

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several groups are now challenging Florida’s rules that restrict what books and media are available in public schools.

A petition, which is an administrative challenge, was filed with the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings by the Florida Education Association, the Florida Freedom to Read Project and Families for Strong Public Schools.

Petitioners describe the Florida Department of Education’s rules imposed after Governor Ron Desantis signed a law that, he said, would provide more transparency about what books and media are available in public schools…

On Thursday, the three groups filed a petition, asking a judge to block the state from enforcing the rules that came out of that law.

“When the law was passed last year, lawmakers were very deliberate in not including classroom libraries in this law,” Andrew Spar told News4JAX on Sunday’s The Morning Show. “This rule, however, expands and adds classroom libraries to this law.”

Spar said teachers often curate their own classroom book collections and help students find material for each one, based on their comprehension level, interests, and reading ability.

Governor DeSantis and his administration has said the law was about transparency of curriculum.

“In Florida, our parents have every right to be involved in their child’s education,” DeSantis said upong signing the bill in March 2022. “We are not going to let politicians deny parents the right to know what is being taught in our schools. I’m proud to sign this legislation that ensures curriculum transparency.”

Spar pushed back on that premise saying, these rules are not solving any problem that actually existed…

“As I talk to teachers all over the state, what they tell me is that they have never had parents question books in their classroom, libraries, teachers are professionals, they buy books that are academically appropriate, that are age-appropriate, and that are content appropriate with their kids in mind. And so this rule is a burden. And it’s certainly impacting the education and access to books for our students.”

It’s unclear when the Division of Administrative Hearings will make a decision.