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Florida school book rules draw challenge

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TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Education Association teachers union and two other groups said Friday they have filed a challenge against the state Department of Education over new rules related to school books.

The FEA, the Florida Freedom to Read Project and Families for Strong Public Schools argue, in part, that the Department of Education overstepped its legal authority in rules that carry out a 2022 law placing a series of requirements on schools related to books and instruction curriculums.

As an example, the law said that an employee with a "valid educational media specialist certificate" must select books made available in media centers or on recommended or assigned reading lists. But the groups contend that one of the challenged rules improperly carries out that part of the law.

"The breadth of the ... rule's requirement that books available through a library media center must be selected by school staff with educational media specialist certification, combined with the unprecedented definition of 'library media center' that incorporates nearly every book in a school building, effectively prevents classroom teachers from choosing books for their own classrooms and parents from donating books or otherwise contributing to their children's schools," the challenge said. "Because the ...rule has the effect of impermissibly enlarging, modifying or contravening the legislative intent that is discernible from a plain reading of the statute, it is invalid."

The groups said they had filed a petition at the state Division of Administrative Hearings, though it had not been posted to the division's website Friday morning.

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