Gov. DeSantis signs School Board term limits, curriculum crackdown into law

RON DESANTIS BILL SIGNING (12)
'This is going to be a really significant win for parents in the state of Florida.'

On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation (CS/HB 1467) that would impose School Board term limit requirements statewide and also offer parents and others a mechanism to purge texts they don’t like from the classroom.

The new term limit clock starts running after the 2022 election cycle. That means School Board members would be allowed to serve through 2034, a twelve-year tenure that the Governor groused about earlier this month.

The 12-year limit, however, was a condition inserted by the Senate and assented to by the House as the bill passed in the last week of Session. The House had preferred an eight-year limit.

DeSantis prefaced the signing with a history lesson, including the 2021 “Parents Bill of Rights” that allowed parents to opt out of school masking. He presented the School Board term limits bill as the latest in a series of measures giving parents leverage against the school system.

DeSantis said parents asked “tough questions” of school boards during the pandemic, and were discouraged from doing so by a Joe Biden administration that likened parents to “domestic terrorists.”

“In Florida, we believe parents not only have a role, but a fundamental role in the education of their kids,” DeSantis said.

The Governor said voters don’t have to wait for term limits to give bad board members the boot, saying they could “throw the bums out” at the next election. DeSantis said he will “be involved” in School Board races as well this year, a promise he has made before.

The legislation also stoked controversy during the Legislative Session for enhancing the ability of community members to cull potentially objectionable titles from school library shelves.

The bill will require school districts to list all library and instructional materials in use in an online database, with a multi-step 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-trained media specialist to curate materials, while compelling 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.

DeSantis had offered conceptual support for the so-called “curriculum transparency” measure earlier this month. The Governor continued to drive the point home Friday, calling it the “strongest curriculum transparency legislation in the country” for “classrooms and school libraries.”

“This is going to be a really significant win for parents in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

Parents could object to material that “deviates from state standards” or is “inappropriate,” citing “really graphic stuff” that kids have access to, even in middle school.

“Some of the stuff that has ended up there, incredibly, incredibly disturbing stuff,” DeSantis said.

The Governor was in Daytona Beach with outgoing Education Secretary Richard Corcoran and Senate President Wilton Simpson, in a room full of supporters with placards proclaiming “Year of the Parent.”

Corcoran was enthusiastic.

“There is no greater accountability than telling a politician your career ends dead certain at this point in time,” Corcoran, a former House Speaker, said.

Simpson, who got some speaking time, noted the placards, and said this bill “brings transparency” and “puts parents in charge.”

Whatever political tensions may exist between the Governor and the Senate President relative to congressional redistricting and other thorny, unresolved issues for the 2022 Session, they were downplayed at least for the length of the press conference.

House sponsor Sam Garrison said the bill was the latest evidence that education in Florida is a “model,” saying the term limits provision is a “big deal” and a “major step forward.”

Parents also spoke. Orange County’s Alicia Farrant described a “disturbing pornographic book” in a school library, and credited her “friend” Jacob Engels with helping her “expose the book” by reading an excerpt aloud from “Gender Queer: a Memoir.”

“He was rapidly removed from the meeting due to the graphic content he read to a room of adults,” Farrant said.

Ironically, the hard-right Engels has been described as the “mini-me” of Roger Stone, the Trump operative teasing a run for Governor against DeSantis.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


18 comments

  • It’s just funny

    March 25, 2022 at 11:53 am

    Why do they hate books so much?
    Go watch top gun or some old movie to remind you all of “manly men” and “the way things used to be” lol

    • Frankie M.

      March 25, 2022 at 5:19 pm

      I miss the good ol days back when the men were men and women were too.

      • History with Dave

        March 26, 2022 at 7:55 pm

        You know what I miss about the old days?

        Dying From cholera and taking native lands.

  • TJC

    March 25, 2022 at 12:03 pm

    “Some of the stuff that has ended up there, incredibly, incredibly disturbing stuff,” DeSantis said.
    Ahh, the ever eloquent DuhSantis once again rivals his Sugar Daddy Trump in nailing down the third grade level of communication needed to scare up his woefully uninformed followers. “Some of the stuff,” for example, keeps it vague, intentionally. “Incredibly, incredibly,” that’s repetition, another Trump tactic, in case his followers didn’t get it the first time, or as if saying it twice makes it somehow true. And then wrap it all up with another “stuff,” with “incredibly, incredibly disturbing stuff.” It sounds like a child’s song, “Stuff, stuff, incredibly incredibly, stuff stuff, boom!”
    All fall down. Down the rabbit hole of education politics in Florida.

    • Frankie M.

      March 25, 2022 at 5:20 pm

      The he said she said anecdotal evidence is very strongly.

  • Inmates are Running the Asylum

    March 25, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    I have met some of my neighbors. They should not oversee a lemonade stand, much less my children’s academic curriculum.

    This law is useless in it’s current form because it references 847.001. Particularly here:

    (10) “Obscene” means the status of material which:
    (a) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
    (b) Depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct as specifically defined herein; and
    (c) Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

    I guarantee there isn’t a book, movie, pamphlet that falls under those criteria in the school system. And the bill itself doesn’t describe the mechanism where the tipping point is for “community standards”.

    This law was not needed because NOBODY was doing it. Its real purpose was to control the politics of school boards. Shameless.

    Fix our housing crisis, insurance exodus and start that gas-tax holiday now – not in October. Oh, but they won’t call a special legislative session for that.

  • DataBattlesZ

    March 25, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    Seethe

  • Todd in DC

    March 25, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    This is literally cancel culture

    This isn’t that far from making being gay illegal

  • Concern Citizen

    March 25, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Great law Ronnie. I will be demanding that we stop all Calculus and Advance Physic classes. I was traumatized by these classes and I don’t want my children to experience the same incredibly disturbing stuff. Oh, we also need not to discuss Darwinism, god forbid.

  • Frankie M.

    March 25, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    Do they understand that media specialists are anti-censorship? At least they won’t have to worry about this stuff in Duval where most middle schools & high schools don’t have libraries or media specialists. But what would you expect from a district with low performing readers? At least elementary schools can get Dr. Seuss back on the shelves. #culturewars

  • Marconi

    March 25, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    Score one for the good guys. Dem’s are nothing but hypocrites. Get back to reading, writing, and math. If you don’t like it get back in your car’s, fill up with a tank of biden-inflation-gas, and head back to NY!

    • Macaroni

      March 25, 2022 at 4:17 pm

      What good guys?

      The Repugs are the hypocrits. Griping about cancel culture, while passing bills that are effectively just that.

    • Your on

      March 26, 2022 at 7:58 pm

      Or what you gonna put us all in jail?
      Go ahead expand my business lol

  • Jason Crew

    March 25, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    This was unneeded legislature and anti-conservative.

    Just spending taxpayer money on something that doesn’t exist.

    Read the bill. It’s only 13 pages, unless of course you think it’s not up to community standards for decency (it’s not). Then you need to petition to have it removed from the teaching texts.

  • Frankie M.

    March 25, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    Good move Ronnie Dobbs! We don’t need all that fancy book learnin. Books are fer burnin not fer readin anyway.

  • Frankie M.

    March 25, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    It’s a good thing schools in FL don’t have a reading problem. I wonder how many of them libarians got into that field to be the censorship police? Sounds like job security to me.

    Bring back Dr. Seuss!

  • Frankie M.

    March 25, 2022 at 5:31 pm

    Funny how we label people that threaten bodily harm on elected officials as “domestic terrorists.”

    DeSantis said parents asked “tough questions” of school boards during the pandemic, and were discouraged from doing so by a Joe Biden administration that likened parents to “domestic terrorists.”

    • Antonio

      March 27, 2022 at 11:17 pm

      That literally happened. The DOJ labeled parents that argued points at school meetings Domestic Terrorists. That happened and it’s gross. No matter what party does it. Stop being so partisan and try to look at things objectively instead of superimposing your own bias on everything that comes out of the side you oppose. It’s amazing how many people just buy whatever comes out of the mouths of pundits on MSNBC, Fox, and the like. They label people and tell you why they are doing something without ever talking to the people they are castigating. If you don’t see a dividing agenda in that, I don’t know what to tell you other than you have your head buried in the sand. I remember a time when politicians would say something, and you would THINK FOR YOURSELF and decide what to take away from it. Now politicians say something, and news pundits TELL YOU/US what those politicians REALLY mean. As if these pundits are some sort of mid-reading sages. There’s a reason they say what they say, and unifying the country isn’t the reason.

Comments are closed.


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