A ‘joke:’ Gov. DeSantis considers tweaks to Florida law to speed up review process of school books

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis said there may be some improvements that could be made to the state’s new public school curriculum and transparency laws.

The suggestion came after Action News Jax asked the Governor about a book on hall-of-fame baseball player Roberto Clemente that had been kept off the shelves for months in Duval County.

Duval County Public Schools has come under fire from the Florida Department of Education after it took months to review and approve a book about hall-of-fame baseball player Roberto Clemente.

Late Monday afternoon DCPS confirmed it had approved the book, just one day after Florida’s Education Commissioner sent a letter calling the months-long review of the 40-page picture book “unacceptable”.

“Roberto Clemente? I mean seriously,” said DeSantis Tuesday.

RELATED: Governor DeSantis discusses education in Jacksonville

DeSantis doubled down on the critique of DCPS, calling the multi-month review a “joke”.

“First of all, I don’t think parents are challenging that. I think they’re doing it unilaterally to try to create an issue, but that can be resolved in about two minutes,” said DeSantis.

In an email sent Monday, a district spokesperson explained the Clemente book was just one of the 1.6 million titles in classroom and media center libraries the district is reviewing to ensure compliance with state law.

Jonathan Friedman with PEN America explained DCPS isn’t alone in lengthy review times, and in some cases, districts pull books from shelves as soon as they are challenged by a member of the public.

“These challenges are filed and then the books are going off the shelves immediately, sometimes indefinitely, sometimes permanently,” said Friedman.

In response to our question about inconsistent policies around book challenges and review times, DeSantis suggested the legislature may have a role to play in mandating time limits for reviews to ensure non-controversial books are kept on the shelves.

“Having you know, young kids engaging in sex acts? You’re gonna compare that to a biography of Roberto Clemente? Give me a break!” said DeSantis.

In our story Monday, Action News Jax was told by Florida’s Commissioner of Education that possible improvements could be made at the department level to help prevent school districts from overbroadly interpreting the state’s new curriculum laws.

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