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Manatee County school teachers close off classroom libraries for review

Teachers in Manatee County Schools close off their classroom libraries to students until all books h
Teachers in Manatee County Schools close off their classroom libraries to students until all books h 02:30

BRADENTON, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now) - Teachers in Manatee County Schools say they are having to close off their classroom libraries to students until all books have been reviewed.

It's all because of Governor Ron DeSantis' new guidelines that regulate what is appropriate for students to read.

"Teachers have been asked to keep their classroom libraries out of reach of their students until those libraries can be vetted," said Pat Barber who is a member of the Manatee Education Association.

Barber is a high school teacher in Manatee County and member of the Manatee Education Association, and says the new rules regulating books in schools are making things difficult.

"If I were in the legislature, I would not have voted for this law," said Barber.

Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law some new guidelines for books in school. The rules say books must be appropriate for the age group and no books deemed pornographic can stay in the school. They also state books must not have any bias and indoctrination when discussing race, cultural diversity and socioeconomic issues.

Barber says the rules aren't necessary.

"We are required to go through rigorous training for our jobs and part of that is the appropriateness of the things that we select and now the state is saying that is not enough," said Barber.

She says in the past, if a parent had an issue with a book, it would be resolved quickly.

"Parents have always had rights. The conversation happens between parents and teachers every single day so they have rights in their children's education and I don't think it's necessary to legislate those rights," said Barber.

Barber says the district is sorting through all the books in schools, causing disruptions for teachers.

"We're in the middle of benchmark testing. I mean, their primary job is to teach students and plan for their students educations," said Barber.

The Manatee County School Board is scheduled to discuss 30 books considered controversial this week and more vetting is continuing.

"If parents are interested in having their kids read books that are removed from circulation, they will have to buy them for their children or take them to the public library because somebody else made that decision for every parent," said Barber.

The school board's next meeting on the censorship of books will be a workshop this Friday at 9 a.m.

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