Why Lee County schools removed fewer books than Collier County

Reporter: Amy Galo Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

Collier County schools have removed over 300 books from their shelves to review, but in Lee County, only six have been pulled.

Both districts are following the same laws, but why is there such a difference in the numbers?

This is likely because there’s no state list to follow. It’s up to the school districts to evaluate their books.

Collier school board member Kelly Lichter told WINK she thinks Collier’s list is much longer because the district has media specialists in every school, which isn’t the case in every district.

“They took them out in huge boxes of the books,” said Ingrid Walsh, an English teacher with Collier County Public Schools.

Collier and Lee County schools said they are in compliance with a new Florida law that bars sexual content from schools.

“It sounds like they were trying to prevent potential challenges, and that could explain the difference between Lee and Collier,” said Jennifer Sughrue, FGCU professor of education leadership and education law.

Sughrue said the law makes it easier for parents to submit a challenge or objection, and when they do…

“The school district has to remove those books immediately while the challenge is being investigated,” Sughrue said.

A spokesperson with Collier Schools said no objection forms were looked at for this process. It was media specialists who performed an extensive review.

Sughrue thinks that’s where the difference lies.

“Lee might be saying, ‘When we get a challenge, we’ll deal with it,’ instead of trying to preemptively decide what books should come off,” she said.

Walsh said most teachers and media specialists she knows are upset about the list, but she isn’t entirely against it.

“I disagree with them being banned, as a library. I don’t disagree with them being banned completely in classrooms,” Walsh said.

Likewise, Walsh said parents are not keeping tabs on what their kids read, so instead of removing them from schools, she said the list should exist. Kids should be able to check them out, but the school should, in turn, inform parents.

WINK News reached out to state lawmakers to ask why the districts were tasked with creating their own lists. WINK also mentioned the stark difference between Collier’s and Lee’s lists and asked why the state didn’t create a master one to follow.

There has not yet been a response.

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