A Jacksonville substitute teacher was fired after posting a video on Twitter showing rows of empty bookshelves in Mandarin Middle School’s library and blaming Governor DeSantis for it. The Duval County Public School District (DCPS) later deemed this a violation of the ESS social media and cell phone policy in addition to deliberately manipulated video.
The teacher, Brian Covey, said he posted the video to expose the public to the impact of new state-wide laws requiring the mass review of all library media and classroom materials. A trend that a number of teachers across Florida have been participating in.
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Three weeks after Covey’s video was posted, the district’s communications team posted a reply, showing what appears to be the same library from another angle, and shows several book-lined shelves
“The viral video you are sharing shows less than half the story,” the district’s official social media account said. “Yes, those shelves were empty. But they were in a room full of books.”
In showing only the section of shelves that were, at the time, emptied for review, the district argued it was a gross misrepresentation of the books available to students in the district, which DCPS clarified was nearly 6,000 titles as of Friday.
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“We did direct teachers to temporarily reduce their classroom library collections to titles that were previously approved while waiting for media specialists to curate a more expansive list of approved titles,” the district published in a blog post late Friday afternoon. “However, at no time should a classroom have been without reading resources. At all times, students should have had access to state-approved books, already approved civics literacy books, Benchmark Advance small group books, Reader’s Theatre, and extensive online resources in our curriculum.”
When asked about the video during a news conference in Jacksonville earlier on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida, asserted that the video was dishonest.
“That video, that was a fake narrative, that was not true,” DeSantis said. “What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to act like somehow we don’t want books.”
Duval County Public Schools did not immediately reply for comment.