‘Throw the bums out:’ DeSantis signs bill imposing school board term limits, oversight of materials in classrooms, libraries

CB/HB 1467 goes into effect July 1

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill at news conference in Daytona Beach on Friday, March 25, 2022. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed CB/HB 1467 into law, imposing four-year term limits on school board members and subjecting most material in district schools’ libraries and classrooms — instructional or otherwise — to new governmental oversight and approval practices.

During a news conference at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, DeSantis characterized arguments in support of what he called “probably the strongest curriculum transparency legislation in the country” as resistance against “indoctrination in the school system.”

“What this is going to do is it is going to require transparency with respect to the materials that are being taught in classrooms or that are available in school libraries, and so if that’s something that is going to be used, then that’s something that a parent would have the right to understand and know that’s going out there,” DeSantis said. “It also provides an ability for parents to review this and lodge objections if they find the material to either deviate from state standards or to just be inappropriate.”

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The 13-page bill, which you can read here, provides in part that district school board members serve four-year terms. Current board members who by the end of their ongoing term would have served 12 consecutive years in office will be barred from appearing on the ballot for reelection in November, the bill states. Service of a term that commenced before November 8, 2022, will not be counted toward this limitation.

“I’m a big believer in term limits, but you don’t always even have to wait for that to attach, you can throw the bums out in the election,” DeSantis said. “If they mistreated your kids or they didn’t follow the law... you have an opportunity, for many of them will be up for re-election.”

According to the bill, anyone involved in the selection of a K-12 district school’s library materials must complete a training program designed by the Florida Department of Education before they can qualify to do so. The program will be made available on January 1, 2023, and superintendents must report to the department that all relevant persons complete the training by July 1 of that year, the bill states.

DeSantis said the legislation will enable parents to “defend the education of their kids” and keep instructional, library or reading list material in line with state standards when, for example, complaints of age-inappropriate content are raised. The bill states that such complaints may be raised by any parent of a district student, or by any county resident. The complaints will be required by law to be brought to public school board hearings. Once a school board comes to a conclusion after such a hearing, its decision will be final and not subject to any further petition or review, the bill states.

Material used in classrooms, libraries or reading lists found by a school board to contain “content that is pornographic or prohibited under s. 847.012, is not suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented, or is inappropriate for the grade level and age group for which the material is used″ will be discontinued for any relevant grade level or age group, the bill states.

“If it violates state standards, if it’s not consistent with what we’ve set out under Florida law, then the parent can prevail, and so I think these are well-meaning reforms and I think it’s going to help give parents a lot of confidence that they can send their kids to school and they’ll get an education but they’re not necessarily going to be indoctrinated to things that are very, very questionable,” DeSantis said.

Rebecca Sarwi, a Volusia County parent who DeSantis invited to speak at the conference, said that a book her daughter allegedly read in elementary school — “Red: A Crayon’s Story” by Michael Hall, a book about a blue crayon with a red label that Marshall University reports has already been challenged in some U.S. schools — sought to indoctrinate the girl with “subliminal messaging.”

“It really was a book written for that subliminal message of mistaken identity or an identity crisis, and for me I was not comfortable with my daughter receiving a subliminal message that she may not be who she was created to be or that she was in the wrong body or that she was a design flaw, subliminal messaging for kids that young, it normalizes them to believe that there’s something other than you the unique individual that God created them to be,” Sarwi said.

The signing of CB/HB 1467 represents Florida’s facet of a nationwide push by Republican lawmakers to give parents power over curriculum choices.

“It (the bill) also sets curriculum standards in terms of teacher professional development, and the curriculum, making sure those align with required instruction state standards. So for example, you know, we don’t have common core, we don’t have critical race theory. We want to make sure again, we’re doing education, not indoctrination,” DeSantis said.

Katie Peters, a high school English teacher in Toledo, Ohio, who was interviewed by the Associated Press in February, expressed worry over what such legislation insinuates.

“It makes me a little defensive, because I’m like — no, wait a minute, we’re not hiding anything. The transparency is always there, and the parents who have cared to look have always had access,” Peters said.

CB/HB 1467 will go into effect July 1.

About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.