JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Brian Covey, a substitute teacher at Mandarin Middle School, posted a video on Jan. 27 showing rows of empty bookshelves in the school's library. The jarring video quickly went viral and now has over 13 million views, it made national headlines and was even fodder on a late night talk show.
On Tuesday, First Coast News asked Gov. Ron DeSantis about Covey's video, to which DeSantis replied, "That's a fake narrative."
On Wednesday, nearly three weeks after the video was posted, Covey said he was fired.
Duval County Public Schools gave First Coast News the following statement regarding Covey's termination:
In discussion between the district and ESS regarding this individual’s misrepresentation of the books available to students in the school’s library and the disruption this misrepresentation has caused, it was determined that he had violated social media and cell phone policies of his employer. Therefore, ESS determined these policy violations made it necessary to part ways with this individual.
ESS is the organization the district contracts with to hire substitute teachers.
During the last month, the state has instructed school districts to “err on the side of caution” to make sure they're complying with new Florida laws regarding books and materials available to children in school libraries and classrooms.
As Duval County school leaders urged its educators to comply with the new law, this resulted in teachers removing and covering books in classrooms to make sure all books and literature are approved by the state.
"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," DCPS Superintendent Diana Greene stated Thursday in a letter to district employees. "However, at no time should a classroom have been without reading resources."