Florida needs to clear up ambiguous new education laws, Orange County Schools says

School board learned more about recent laws passed by the Florida Legislature

Orange County Public Schools says it needs clear guidance from the state saying new laws are ambiguous, leave teachers worried.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orange County Public Schools’ board discussed two policies during their work session Tuesday; the focus was on instructional material selection, library material selection, and the process for challenging both.

School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs told News 6 they want clear guidance from the state so that they can then take the burden off teachers by providing them with specific direction.

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“I’m very concerned for our teachers that they have a huge burden just coming in and worrying about our students and teaching them, and there’s more of a threat this year than there’s ever been before of them individually being sued and that worries me,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said what’s proven to be particularly challenging in reviewing current policies is how subjective some of the language from the state is; for example, the use of the phrase “age appropriate.”

“It’s not a black-and-white process, I keep coming back to age-appropriate; what one high schooler might think is age-appropriate, another high schooler wouldn’t, parents might see something totally different,” said Jacobs.

The school board’s work session was to review policies in place, making sure they are in line with new state laws.

One of those laws is HB 1467 on K through 12 education, which increases scrutiny of school library books and instructional materials.

Jacobs said she’s not optimistic they are going to get enough guidance from the state, but is hoping to get more clarity.

“We just want to get it right, you know, and we want to know what right is, so that we’re not in the courts, and that’s my greatest concern about this bill and the other bill,” said Jacobs.

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.