ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pinellas County Schools Committee of Library Media Specialists reviewed dozens of books ahead of the coming school year. Of the titles they read through, five were recommended for restriction and five for removal. However, final decisions on books are decided by school principals, individually.
A representative for the Pinellas County School system noted that the committee does not ban books, instead making recommendations based on several criteria set by state law. The review process occurs yearly, according to documents provided by the school system.
To that end, the committee reviewed just under 100 books ahead of the 2022-2023 school year, five books were recommended for removal, based on the above criteria, and another five were recommended to be moved to the “Professional Collection – Prevention Office.”
Here are the books recommended for removal or restriction:
|Recommended for Removal||Professional Collection – Prevention Office|
|Tricks by Ellen Hopkins||Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff|
|Perfect by Ellen Hopkins||Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi|
|Morris Micklewhite & the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino||A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara|
|It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris and Michael Emberley||What is White Privilege? by Kelisa Wing and Leigh Ann Erickson|
|L8r, G8r by Lauren Myracle||Anti Racist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi|
It has not been made clear yet what final actions individual principals have taken regarding the 10 titles in question.
One other book is reported as still under review, “Girl From Nowhere” by Tiffany Rosenhan.
The county’s review committee examined 94 books. Of the books reviewed, officials said 35 were requested for review by schools and/or community members. From the books reviewed, 50 were on the 2022 annual young reader and teen reader lists, according to PCS. Officials said the remaining books for review were newly published and were considered for inclusion in the collection.
“Each summer, certified Library Media Specialists will meet to review and discuss books that are both recently published and currently in our Library Media collections across the district,” PCS said. “Using our district selection guidelines and applicable state law, this provides an opportunity to calibrate as a district in terms of selecting age-appropriate resources for Library Media collections. This is one of many steps that Pinellas County Schools is implementing to support recent changes to state law and the review of reading materials.”
The responsibility of the review committee was to ascertain if titles needed to be restricted, and if so, determine what the limits would be.
The factors used to choose whether or not to restrict books were based on state criteria outlined in Florida Statute 1006.34. The three applied were the following:
- The age of the students that are expected to have access to the material or resource
- The educational purpose to be served by the material
- Consideration of the diversity of students in this state
Additionally, the library committee was “encouraged” to codify existing policies and media collection procedures after the passage of House Bill 1467, according to a school system official.
Part of HB 1467 was focused on limiting school board terms, but another provision of the newly enacted law was aimed at changing the public accessibility of materials held in school library collections across the state of Florida. It also created new requirements to choose and adopt materials, including review of new books to be included in libraries or used in class instruction.
While the committee for the county reviewed books that could be present in any or all Pinellas schools, each schools’ actual collection is “the responsibility of the school’s principal,” according to the school system. That is why the review committee only offers recommendations.
There is also a process for a review to be requested or challenged in Pinellas County Schools. Parents or community members are able to review every school’s individual library collection online. If there are “specific questions or concerns,” concerned residents can address them with their school principals, according to PCS.
More information on material and resource selections, as well as options to opt a student out of certain materials, can be found online.