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Florida parents sue Department of Education over book bans

Florida parents sue Department of Education over book bans

  • PublishedJune 11, 2024

Parents argue the law implemented through House Bill 1069 violates their First Amendment.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Two St. Johns County parents and a parent from Orange County are involved in a lawsuit against the Florida Board of Education regarding book bans.

The plaintiffs argue the law implemented through HB 1069, discriminates against parents who are against book bans. 

Stephana Ferrell, a parent involved in the lawsuit, said filing a lawsuit was her last option after reaching out to school officials, speaking out at her local school board meeting and taking her concerns to state officials. 

“Every parent has a right to direct the education and upbringing in this state and there’s only so much a parent can do,” Ferrell said.

The lawsuit comes after St. Johns County school board members restricted several books to specific grade levels. 

The most recent book removals include titles: “Slaughterhouse Five,” “l8r g8r,” “A Stolen Life” and “Freedom Writer’s Diary.”

The plaintiffs are seeking a review of their local school board’s decisions to remove or restrict books. They are also calling for a judge to declare that the relevant portion of HB 1069 violates the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment, adding they want a special magistrate appointed to the state review process rule. 

Parents say the law gives people in favor of removing books a “formal process to challenge a local school board’s decision to keep a book on school shelves.” 

At last check, 62 books were removed from all of St. Johns County School District’s media centers and libraries.

The majority of books that have been called into question are materials that weren’t introduced in the classroom but were accessible through the school library. 

Ferrell said the law currently does not leave room for parents to make an objection. 

“If you’re not able to go out and buy a book and you’re not able to get your kids to the library, advocating for your kids at the school level and asking for access to books is something you should have a right to do as well,” she said.

According to the American Library Association, Florida is one of 17 states that attempted to ban more than 100 titles. 

First Coast News reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office and the Florida Board of Education regarding the lawsuit but has not received a response yet. 

The lawsuit is attached below

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