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The Student News Site of Jupiter Community High School

War Cry

The Student News Site of Jupiter Community High School

War Cry

The Student News Site of Jupiter Community High School

War Cry

Jupiter High School implements new Florida bills

Addison Gload
Teachers are no longer able to loan unapproved books to students.

The Florida school system has undergone changes due to the new bills put into effect July 1 2023. These measures deal with the selection of learning materials, referring to students by the gender/name assigned to them at birth and procedures giving parents a louder voice in their children’s education in response to parent concerns and questions. 

Bills passed into laws are first proposed by legislatures and then reviewed through committees. After being thoroughly reviewed, it is then voted on by the two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Once approved by both chambers, the bill is taken to the governor if it is state, or the president if it is federal, where they can sign or veto it. If signed, it becomes law. The recent bills passed involving education were signed into law and are now causing impacts on the students and teachers who are obligated to follow them. 

“Because we are public school educators, we have to follow the state statutes,” Dr. Colleen Iannitti, Jupiter High School principal, said. “We need to follow the statutes we’re given to follow.”

Florida House Bill 1467, passed in March, involves the selection of educational resources, training for school librarians and the availability of books in media centers. School libraries must be free from pornographic or harmful material, have books selected by reputable professionals, create collections of books based on student interest, support the state curriculum and be willing to pull books  parents object to. 

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“The bill requires all public schools to be transparent with the curriculum that is being taught in the classroom,” Patti Potts, media specialist, said. 

All teaching material, not already banned, must be “vetted,” or critically examined for approval. Teaching materials, such as magazine articles or videos, must be sent to Ms. Potts to review before they can be used. 

“[Potts] submits everything to a website and then there’s this group of individuals not related to schools, and they go over it and they say ‘Yes this doesn’t violate any of the new state statutes’ or ‘Yes, it does and unfortunately you can’t use it,” Dr. Iannitti said.

Because of the approval process, some teachers have limited videos and other resources.

“As a teacher, I have a great website that keeps sending really high-interest student psychology topics and I can’t use that website,” Daniel Burke, psychology teacher, said. 

These laws are statewide, meaning schools around the state, in addition to JHS, have felt its impacts. A teacher in Hernando County was pressured to resign after receiving backlash for showing the movie “Strange World” to her middle school students without proper permission. 

“I get you have to not allow some things, but for the most part, teachers are just trying to educate us about whatever they’re teaching and if one parent can make that much of an impact, it could affect a lot of things,” Natalie Ahern, junior, said. 

Florida has officially banned about 300 books from being taught or put in school libraries. An illustrated version of Anne Frank’s Diary was pulled from a Vero Beach school. As of right now, no books have been pulled off of Jupiter High School shelves.

“There have been no challenges to any of the books we have and it really hasn’t caused problems,” Potts said. “We still are meeting the needs of the students.”

As a result of Senate Bill 1320, passed May 2, students are not allowed to go by their “preferred” name or their pronouns assigned at birth. The bill states the schools are, “prohibiting employees and contractors from providing a pronoun or personal title to students which does not correspond with his or her sex.” 

“Currently we have 103-108 students that have chosen to have a preferred name than what is on their birth certificate,” Tracy Narducci, data processor, said. “They have to complete a registration form and they have to sign that form, the parent, stating they’re okay with their child having a preferred nickname.”

Parent Consent for Participation Form (PBSC 2680) is a product of House Bill 1557. The “Parental Rights in Education” law gives parents more input in their children’s education. Jupiter High School, as well as other schools, are implementing this law by requiring students to fill out a form, PBSC 2680, for every extracurricular activity they are involved in. These forms must be signed by parents and turned in to the teachers sponsoring the activity or club.

There are conflicting views about the SIS changes and what they entail. While some agree it is fair to keep the parents in the loop of their kid’s lives, others believe it is stifling the students whose parents will not sign the form.

“I understand why we’re doing it, for safety and for parents to know what we’re up to, but I’ve had to fill out a lot of forms in the past couple of days, and I feel like it would be nice if we could do one form for everything,” Ahern said. 

While the forms are meant for the sole purpose of informing parents of their child’s education and extra activities at school, the ramifications of them are not all positive. One club in particular dealing with this is the Gay Straight Alliance. 

“Right now, a lot of our students have parents that are accepting, so it hasn’t been a problem yet, but since we want to expand and get more members, it may be a problem for people who have parents who don’t agree with their identity,” Kennedy said.

These new bills raise questions about how schools can avoid conflicts such as these with parents and how schools should handle them. 

“Some parents give their children more freedoms than others and some are more restrictive,” Kennedy said. “The law isn’t really helping with that.” 

The bills passed have positives and negatives when it comes to the education of the students at JHS. It is up to parents, students and teachers alike to implement and follow them and to educate themselves on what is happening both in our school and in our state legislature. 

“Parents and teachers, we’re all in this together, we all have the same goals and the same mission to have our children to be well educated,” Dr. Iannitti said. “By asking parents to give their permission,  it just makes everybody more knowledgeable.”

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    EmilyMar 1, 2024 at 10:45 am

    This article is amazing, very informative and a good take on the situation.