Clay County leads state in school book objections, removals, state says

More than 300 books removed from Florida schools in last year, state data shows

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 300 books have been removed from Florida school districts in the last year, according to a list released by the state’s Department of Education.

Clay County District Schools led the state with the most removals (177) and objections (489) last year.

LIST: Read the full list of objections, removals for the state

Martin County had the second most books removed with 98 and Manatee County was next with 25.

Duval County Public Schools had three objections but no removals, the St. Johns County School District had six books removed and 30 objections and Flagler County Schools had 11 removals and 24 objections.

The Marion County School District had six books removed and 62 objections, according to the list.

Florida law requires districts to review every single book they own, but when it comes to objections or challenges, each school district has its own criteria.

For Clay County District Schools, anyone who lives in the state can report books they consider obscene. If a library book is challenged, students can still check it out with a signed permission slip from a parent.

Clay County District Schools spokesperson Terri Dennis told News4JAX that approximately 94% of all of the texts that have been challenged in the district have been from one individual.

“The large majority of our books, approximately 94% on the list, are from one community member, Bruce Friedman, and his organization No Left Turn in Education,” Dennis explained in a statement. “Due process allows a single individual to challenge materials with no restriction on the numbers of titles that individual may contest. All challenges are subject to the same procedure and follow the same process regarding potential violations based on F.S. Chapter 847.”

Another example of varying district protocols, the Indian River County School Board recently removed several books due to a newly adopted rule in that district. Under HB 1069, if a school board member denies and stops a parent from reading a passage from a book considered “pornographic” or “harmful to minors,” the district must discontinue the use of such materials.

Districts also have different review processes.

In Clay County, a committee, which must include at least one parent, reviews the challenge or objection and decides whether to remove or keep the book.

Parents can appeal any committee decision.

In those cases, the school board will review the material, and the decision it makes is final.

When the districts were asked why the removed books were approved, many cited the Parental Rights in Education Act, which prohibits instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools. The act was expanded this year to include kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

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