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Education

Florida House OK's Legislation Aimed At Increasing Oversight Of School Material

Florida’s retail industry is gearing up for this year’s back-to-school sales tax “holiday” on clothes, classroom supplies and computer equipment, with the state offering the tax break for five days .
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House sponsor Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, says he wanted to create a transparent process to questioning school books and materials.

It could become easier for parents and residents to challenge school textbooks under a bill passed by the Florida House.

Proponents like the bill’s sponsor, Naples Republican Bryon Donalds, say the legislation will better equip parents to contest material they feel is unsuitable for their children.

But critics contend that it could lead to censorship.

South Florida Democrat Joseph Heller called the legislation a “slippery slope.”

"You’re setting it up for there to be small groups of parents that are organized," he said. "This thing could also turn out to end up violating the separation of church and state."

Currently, anyone who objects to school material can petition their local school board. Under the legislation, complaints would come before a hearing officer, who would then deem if the content is suitable –or not.

In testimony before a House subcommitee in March, some parents complained of finding what they called  obscene materials in their children's schools. 

Most school textbooks purchased by Florida's 67 school districts come from a state-approved list.

A similar bill is also being considered in the Florida Senate.

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