Gov. Ron DeSantis has received legislation (CS/HB 1467) that would impose statewide term limits on local school board members.
The Governor received the bill Tuesday, and has until April 6 to sign it into law. DeSantis offered a qualified endorsement of the proposal last week, but emphasized his belief that the bill didn’t go far enough on term-limits, however he “wouldn’t veto the bill just over that.”
The amended legislation limits School Board members to terms of 12 years, a step up from the original eight-year restriction. The new clock starts running after the 2022 election cycle, and members would be allowed to serve through 2034.
A more controversial portion of the bill requires school districts to list all library and instructional materials in use in an online database, with a multistep review process before adoption, including a mandatory public hearing and a “reasonable” opportunity for public comment.
It also requires elementary schools to hire a Department of Education (DOE) trained media specialist to curate materials and compels school districts to report materials and books that draw public objections. The DOE would then publish that list for circulation to guide content management decisions, including withdrawing texts deemed objectionable from circulation to students.
DeSantis noted that he had not reviewed the legislation, but he offered conceptual support for what he called “curriculum transparency” in his remarks last week.
The Senate approved the legislation in a 24-15 near-party-line vote after adopting the amendment that lengthened the term to twelve years. The House followed and cleared the final proposal in a 79-40 party-line vote on Feb. 10. The legislation was introduced by Clay County Republican Rep. Sam Garrison and Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters, who said the goal of the bill was to provide “uniformity throughout the state.”
The legislation garnered criticism from Democratic legislators, who suggested it may be used to censor certain books or topics.
Orange County Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy warned during the Senate debate that the DOE would use the database to comprise a list of books to be banned statewide in an attempt to “erase history.”