MANATEE COUNTY -  Members of the Manatee County school board held a meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss how they are moving forward with the process of approving books in the classroom libraries to comply with a new Florida law. 

“Coming together and doing this in a systematic way with a process is the best way to adhere to the law, keep the focus on instruction and make sure that we are supporting our staff," said Executive Director of Curriculum of the Manatee County School District, Laurie Breslin. 

Members of the Manatee County school board are looking for ways to comply with House Bill 1467, which requires all reading material in schools to be selected by an employee with a valid education media specialist certificate.

“What resources can we utilize, can we have subs, can we create a system where we can barcode scan it, it that possible?," said Manatee County School member, Gina Messenger. 

“Many times people get books donated, that they can read, they purchase them with their own funds and they provide a library within their own classroom so when the state clarified this bill, they are sure the district understood that not just the media center was what they were implying, it’s this portion too, we had not incorporated that in the middle of the school year," said Manatee County School district superintendent, Cynthia Saunders. 

With over 60 schools across the Manatee County school district and limited media center specialist, many teachers have chosen to close book access altogether for now, since making unvetted books available could lead to felony prosecution. Saunders says no one  in the school district made any teacher close their libraries.

“No, we said we need to have a procedure, to make sure that you do not have any books on your shelves that have not been properly vetted or are allowable," said Saunders. 

Members of the school board say students will still be able to access books in school media centers, as those books have already been vetted and reviewed.

“We are now having to address this in the middle of the school year which is not ideal," said Saunders. 

“As my conversations to the principals were the law goes into effect with clarifying language, the law is in effect, we are communicating the information those that are held responsible for the statue and enforcing the statue were conveyed that information," said Saunders. 

The district and schools have begun making calls for volunteers to help teachers go through their classroom libraries and inventory what was already approved and what needs to be approved.

There is no deadline or timeline as to when classroom books would need to be vetted.