Florida has been the center of attention across the nation regarding its changes to the law as to which books can and cannot be used in public schools. Teachers, parents and students have had a litany of questions as to what the new laws mean. Of paramount concern for teachers is whether they can face criminal charges for violations and how severe those allegations might be.
Giving students material that violates the law could result in felony charges
In Florida, there are legal criteria that must be met when assigning books as part of the approved curriculum. Schools have media specialists whose role is to assess reading material. This person follows the dictionary definition of pornography to determine if materials are appropriate. In addition, students in third grade and below cannot be given material that covers sexual orientation and racial discussions.
The most up to date dictionary definition of pornography is used meaning it is erotic material providing sexual excitement. Regarding discriminatory issues, the material cannot portray people as being racist or being guilty of oppressing others based on national origin, sex, race or color.
Any Florida teacher or other adult who is accused of violating this law could potentially be charged with a third-degree felony. The penalties for a conviction under criminal law can result in up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Teachers should be fully aware of the law for assigned reading materials
Teachers are under intense scrutiny as to what they are using to try and educate students. In some instances, that could lead to them being in an unexpected situation and facing felony charges. Given the severity of the penalties and how it can negatively impact their personal and professional life, it is important to understand these laws.