FOX 35 Investigates: What we know about the strict book review process at Florida schools

Tense school board meetings last year about books led to new rules this year. Florida now requires districts to review every single book it owns.

"I know it's over a million books," said Orange County Superintendent Dr. Maria Vazquez. "We hope that we will have reviewed the books by the end of the school year." 

The stricter review process requires schools to remove books that include topics like sexual orientation or if it's found to have sexually explicit content. This is in addition to districts processing book challenges submitted from the community.

FOX 35 started investigating how many books have been pulled since this topic exploded. Eight of the nine districts across Central Florida responded to our requests.

We found over the course of at least two school years, 73 books have been removed so far. 

A total of 34 books were restricted to higher grade levels or now require parent's consent to read. 

To date, Lake County removed the most books at 22.

Sumter County says it hasn't removed any but restricted certain books to higher grade levels. 

How many books are restricted in each district?

The following is based on information provided by the district through requests and online data.

*restricted: either requires parent's consent to read or restricted to certain grade levels* 

  • Brevard Public Schools: 3 removed, 2 restricted, 31 pending review
  • Flagler Schools: 12 removed, 9 restricted
  • Lake County Schools: 22 removed
  • Marion County Public Schools: 7 removed, 29 pending review
  • The School District of Osceola County: 21 removed
  • Orange County Public Schools: 7 removed, 2 restricted, 1 pending review
  • Seminole County Public Schools: N/A
  • Sumter County School District: 3 restricted
  • Volusia County Schools: 1 removed, 18 restricted

Some question how these books got into the classroom. 

"I think a lot of these slid in through large book orders placed and thrown on shelves," said Alicia Farrant, an Orange County school board member.

Even before Alicia Farrant was an OCPS board member, she says she pushed for a more critical eye on books in school.

To some, these numbers mean more accountability and a better library collection.

"Should have been more oversight. Make sure the books are reviewed before they are put on shelves or purchased," said Farrant. 

Some teachers, however, argue the books left behind after these reviews won't reflect all students and say this fight is far from over. 

"When a law means one becomes an instrument of injustice, one breaks the law," said teacher Adam Tritt. "They will be circumvented, or they will be broken, but they will not be followed." 

Below is a list of district information posted online about book review lists: