Bay District Schools adjusting to new state law, required to review all books in schools

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to revise the context in the first paragraph.

When Alexis Underwood, a seventh grade reading and language arts teacher at Mowat Middle School, learned that she had to inventory her classroom library after the passing of a recent law, it sparked a wave of concern and confusion for her and her colleagues across Bay District Schools.

It’s been a common reaction for educators across the state after HB 1467 was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year. According to the law, all Florida school districts are required to catalog every book on their shelves and put a formal process in place for reviewing complaints.

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“I was deeply concerned and quite puzzled,” Underwood said about her initial reaction to the law. “The law was so poorly written and vague, and educators struggled to understand the intent and the specifics of what the state wants from us.”

According to the HB 1647 law, all Florida school districts are required to catalog every book on their shelves and put a formal review in the process for complaints. Photograph is the Callaway Elementary School renovated media center on Feb. 3, 2023.

According to the HB 1647 law, all Florida school districts are required to catalog every book on their shelves and put a formal review in the process for complaints. Photograph is the Callaway Elementary School renovated media center on Feb. 3, 2023.

Rhonda Sumpter, BDS supervisor for instructional technology and media services, said the district immediately adhered to the new policy and started by reviewing books in media centers and classroom libraries.

“The process for evaluating materials for inclusion in library collections is continuous and systematic,” Sumpter said. “Each year, media specialists complete inventory of the library collections based on the state statute.”

Starting Jan. 1, all school librarians and media specialists were expected to complete

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