A Florida school district halted library purchases but did not cancel book fairs

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With school now in session, much is unclear about how Florida school districts will comply with the state’s new education law.

Signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in March, the law imposes new requirements on the selection of items for school libraries and books for classrooms, as well as stipulations for school boards before they approve the teaching materials.

Awaiting further guidance from education officials, a viral Facebook post suggested that a Florida district had halted purchases of educational materials and banned book fairs.

Sarasota teachers “have recently been informed that they cannot purchase books or donate books or reading materials to their class,” a Facebook post read Aug. 22. “They can’t order from Scholastic, and their schools won’t hold book fairs.”

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We found that schools in Sarasota County have asked teachers to stop accepting donations and buying reading materials until at least January 2023. However, book fairs and school orders by students are still allowed.

The district told PolitiFact it implemented the pause to give the Florida Department of Education enough time to interpret and comply with HB 1467, which took effect statewide in July.

The law directs school district staff who review educational materials to undergo training on selecting “age-appropriate” books. It also takes a certified media specialist to check material in a school library.

Florida teachers can still select reading material for their classroom libraries; however, each book must be submitted for review.

At this time, Sarasota County Schools does not have certified media specialists working in its schools. The break would give the district time to fill these positions.

The district said book fairs scheduled for the fall may remain as planned. However, he noted the possibility of rescheduling them. Schools that have not yet scheduled book fairs are advised to wait until spring.

School book orders by students are also permitted as long as the order form is reviewed by parents in advance, according to the district.

Our decision

A Facebook post claimed Sarasota teachers had been told they could not purchase books, accept reading material donations, order from Scholastic or host book fairs.

Sarasota County schools have asked teachers to temporarily stop accepting donations and suspend purchases of library materials to allow the Florida Department of Education to issue guidance on a new law. However, the district has not banned book fairs or Scholastic book orders.

The post is partially accurate but omits important details. We rate it half true.

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