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Duval County Public Schools parent still without answers days after taking viral video of empty school bookshelves

Brian Covey said bookshelves were emptied at his children's school last week. DCPS is reviewing books to ensure they fall in line with new state law passed in July.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Brian Covey picked up his kids from school last week. 

Instead of hearing about what they learned that day, his kids told him that all the books were removed from their classroom library.

It's something he said he's only read about it. 

"I have no answers for my kids on why this is happening." Covey said. 

A substitute teacher at Mandarin Middle School, Covey decided to see if his school did the same thing. He was met with empty shelves and decided to take a video of it. 

The video has over 5.5 million views on Twitter.

"[I] decided to share that because it blew my mind that type of drastic action was needed." Covey said. 

"Now with specific guidance and direction from the Florida Department of Education we are launching a formal review of our classroom libraries." Duval County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Diana Greene, said in a video posted to DCPS' YouTube page. 

In the video, DCPS said it will be reviewing books to make sure they fall in line with state law that went into effect last July.

It includes vetting books for pornography, a teacher in violation could be charged with a third-degree felony.

It also includes instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades kindergarten through three. As well as discrimination in such a way that, "an individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin is inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” 

But instead of books being plucked off the shelves, they were swept completely clean.

"They made it sound like this is something that they have been planning for all year and this was just the next step in the process," Covey said. "It was a July first deadline the pieces didn't make sense to me as a parent cause obviously if this was a temporary and this was something that the schools had a handle on, I assumed they would give us a deadline that books are being reviewed immediately."

DCPS says it will send an approved list to teachers while remaining books are under review.

Covey says one of the books was part of an incentive program that promises kids an ice cream social at the end of the year.

"It breaks my heart because my kids are trying their best too, they love school they love their media teacher and when they heard that their media teacher was tearfully having to remove the resource from the curriculum it broke their heart, they felt bad for them." Covey said. 

Duval County Public Schools says trained media specialists are conducting the book reviews.

First Coast News asked DCPS how many trained media specialists it has, but it did not answer our question. 

Instead, it directed First Coast News to the blog post about the state department of education telling Florida school districts to "err on the side of caution" in their book reviews.


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