Leon Co. schools discuss new laws governing content

Districts are now required to have a formal process to address content if a parent or a community member has any objections.
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 7:48 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County teachers are having to submit their instructional materials for review if they’re covering controversial subjects after the Florida legislature passed the measure into law earlier this year.

Districts are now also required to have a formal process to address content if a parent or a community member has any objections.

Assistant superintendent Billy Epting says he does not think the new law will have a major impact on Leon County Schools.

They have a process of addressing parent’s concerns with the material, but he says if a teacher can show their material is peer reviewed and up to state-mandated benchmarks, then they are on solid ground.

Florida parents are now given a greater say by the state over what is taught to their children in a classroom setting.

“I think from a classroom teacher’s perspective there could be some unease,” Assistant superintendent Billy Epting said.

Heading into the school year, parents of Leon County students will be able to file formal concerns and complaints with the district if they feel the material their child is learning is not appropriate.

“It’s about... are now parents going to have parts of their cirriculum censored or removed or are we going to get to a point where we’re crossing books out of the library,” Epting said.

Now every district must also have a formal process for dealing with those complaints.

Assistant superintendent Epting says teachers are now forced to walk the fine line.

“We recognize the parent’s input  as well as pushing and challenging our young people to be productive members of society,” Epting said. “And then also give teachers that academic freedom.”

The state has long-standing statutes that profanity and obscene material like pornography cannot be part of the school curriculum.

Epting says the state also has a list of around 20 topics that have to be taught n schools like African American History and water safety, but no specific subject that cannot be taught.

“I have a great deal of confidence in our school administrators and our classroom teachers that they are presenting legitimate educational valued topics to the children that’s appropriate for their age level,” Epting said.

In the legislation, it holds the school principal responsible for all educational materials on their campus.

The first time a specific job title within the school is being held responsible and as a former principal, Epting says that detail is a bit concerning.

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