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Sarasota County Schools asked teachers to temporarily stop buying library books and accepting donated reading materials to allow Florida's Department of Education to issue guidance on how to comply with HB 1467, which heightens scrutiny on school library and instructional materials.
Book fairs already slated for the fall can remain as scheduled. Scholastic book orders placed by students are allowed if first reviewed by parents.
With school back in session, much remains unclear about how school districts across Florida will comply with the state's new education law.
Signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in March, the law places new requirements on selecting items for school libraries and books for classrooms, as well as stipulations for school boards before they approve instructional materials.
Pending further guidance from education officials, one viral Facebook post suggested that a Florida district has halted purchases of instructional materials and prohibited book fairs.
Sarasota teachers "were recently told they cannot purchase books or have any books or reading material donated to their classroom," read an Aug. 22 Facebook post. "They can't order from Scholastic, and their schools will not host book fairs."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
We found that Sarasota County Schools did ask teachers to stop accepting donations and making purchases of reading material until at least January 2023. However, book fairs and Scholastic orders by students are still allowed.
The district told PolitiFact it implemented the pause to provide Florida's Department of Education with ample time to interpret and comply with HB 1467, which took statewide effect in July.
The law directs school district personnel, who review instructional materials, to undergo training on selecting "age-appropriate" books. It also requires a certified media specialist to vet material in a school library.
Teachers in Florida can still select reading materials for their classroom libraries; however, each book must be submitted for review.
As of yet, Sarasota County Schools doesn't have certified media specialists working in its schools. The pause would allow the district time to fill such positions.
The district said book fairs slated for the fall can remain as scheduled. However, it did note the possibility of rescheduling them. Schools that haven't already scheduled book fairs are advised to wait until spring.
Scholastic book orders by students are also allowed as long as the order form is reviewed by parents in advance, according to the district.
A Facebook post claimed that Sarasota teachers were told they cannot purchase books, accept donated reading materials, order from Scholastic or hold book fairs.
Sarasota County Schools asked teachers to temporarily stop accepting donations and to halt purchases of library materials to allow Florida's Department of Education to issue guidance on a new law. However, the district didn't prohibit book fairs or Scholastic book orders.
The post is partially accurate but leaves out important details. We rate it Half True.
Facebook post, Aug. 22, 2022
Email interview with Kelsey Whealy, spokesperson for Sarasota County School District, Aug. 29, 2022
Sarasota-Herald Tribune, Sarasota Schools freezes library book donations and purchases, Aug. 16, 2022
Florida Senate, HB 1467,ENROLLED CS/HB 1467, Engrossed 2 CODING: Words strickenare deletions assessed Aug. 29, 2022
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