Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to harbor some raw feelings about school boards that defied his efforts last year to bar districts from requiring students to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeSantis on Friday signed a bill (HB 1467) that, in part, will cap school board members’ terms at 12 years. But the governor said elections also work just fine for removing “bums” from school boards.
“I’m a big believer in term limits. But you don’t always even have to wait for that,” DeSantis said during a bill-signing event in Daytona Beach. “You can throw the bums out in the election. If they mistreated your kids, or they didn’t follow the law, or they did anything … many of them will be up for re-election.”
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, who is preparing to step down from his job next month, characterized term limits as a way for parents to hold board members accountable.
“There’s no greater accountability than telling a politician, your career ends, dead-certain, at this point in time,” Corcoran, a former state House speaker, said. “Having term limits for school board members is long overdue.”
Perhaps more controversial than the term limits, the bill also will increase scrutiny of school library books and instructional materials.
For instance, school boards will be required to adopt procedures that, in part, provide for the “regular removal or discontinuance” of books from media centers based on factors such as alignment to state academic standards.
Also under the bill, elementary schools will be required to publish online lists of all materials maintained in school libraries or that are part of school reading lists.
But while DeSantis touted the measure as a way to provide “curriculum transparency,” some Democrats and other critics have compared the bill to “book-burning” practices of authoritarian governments.
The Florida Freedom to Read Project, an Orange County-based group formed this year to oppose efforts to step up scrutiny of school books, decried the bill’s signing.
“HB 1467 is now signed into law. This law will allow the most conservative communities the opportunity to censor school libraries throughout the state. FL is a diverse state with large, progressive and inclusive communities. This law is unconstitutional,” the group said in a Twitter post Friday.