On February 28th, the Leon County School Board unanimously passed a new policy that provides a process for parents and residents to challenge existing and new school material.
Parents and residents can file a petition to contest new material used in a classroom, school library or included on a reading list. The petition must be filed with the school board within 30 days after the board’s adoption of the new material. Petition forms will be made available to the public.
After the 30-day period following adoption of the material, the school board will conduct a minimum of one public hearing before a Hearing Officer for all petitions received. Within 14 days of the hearing, the Hearing Officer will submit a recommended order to the school board. Once the school board has considered the recommended order, the school board may enter a final order at a publicly noticed board meeting. If the school board finds that the contested material does not meet Florida law, then the materials must be removed. The school board’s decision is final.
Parents and residents may also contest existing materials used in classrooms, school libraries or reading lists using a Re-evaluation form authorized by the school board.
The principal of the school where the material is being questioned will review the objection and may meet with the teacher or the parent or both in an attempt to resolve the objection.
However, if the objection cannot be resolved, the principal will refer the objection to the superintendent. The superintendent may meet with the parent in an attempt to resolve the objection. The parent is allowed to provide evidence to the superintendent. The parent will be referred for a hearing if the objection is not resolved within 30 days of the referral. The hearing will follow the same procedures as for objections to new material, and the school board’s decision is final.
At the school board meeting adopting the new process, Board Member Marcus Nicholas expressed concern about the number of inquiries he has received in anticipation of the new policy.