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Duval County ranks high on list of school book bans, but district says it doesn't tell the whole story

According to the list, Duval County Schools banned at least 176 books between July 2021 and June 2022, but district officials say they were pending review.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (The video above is from a previous report)

To ban or not to ban? It's a question school districts are having to deal with more frequently amid a growing movement nationally for the censorship of reading materials in public schools.

This week, PEN America, a nonprofit organization that advocates for free speech, released an 'Index of School Book Bans' listing instances where students' access to certain books was either restricted or prohibited.

The data suggest that Duval County Schools has at least 176 books that were "banned" between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

The data indicate St. Johns County had six banned books during that time period and Clay County had two. There were no other First Coast counties included in the list.

Duval Schools district officials contest the data, telling First Coast News that the 176 books in question "have not been banned or challenged in our district" but are pending review.

"Last year, the district ordered a collection of Essential Voices K-5 classroom library books that included many substitute titles that must be reviewed to ensure the material is grade level appropriate," said a spokesperson for Duval County Schools. "Unfortunately, due to staffing shortages, the review process will take longer than anticipated."

RELATED: List: These 10 books have been banned in Duval County schools

The district says the Office of Instructional Materials and Media Services are responsible for keeping track of materials at the district level. Certified school media specialists will review and approve books being purchased or donated at the school level, until further direction from Florida Department of Education.  

"In the case where there is not a certified school media specialist at a school, the Office of Instructional Materials and Media Services will review and approve school-based purchases," said a DCPS spokesperson.

The district provided First Coast News a list of Essential Voices K-5 classroom library books pending review, which includes 30 titles in total.

Click here to see that list.

Click here for more information about the DCPS review process.

 

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