One Florida teacher who was allegedly fired from his position in a Florida middle school has publicly vowed to hold the state’s alt-Right Republican Governor Ron DeSantis accountable, exposing what the GOP leader has done in schools across the sunshine state, according to new reporting from Newsweek.
Brian Covey was a full-time substitute math teacher at Mandarin Middle School in Jacksonville, Florida. Late last month, he went viral across social media, after he posted a video on Twitter showing rows of empty bookshelves at his school amid the disturbing new “book ban” laws and regulations in Florida. Covey was showing the world that Florida school districts are removing or covering books in classrooms and libraries as a result of the horrifying new laws against media.
Eventually, Governor Ron DeSantis got his claws into Covey, as a result of the viral video, and effectively served as the catalyst for the teacher’s termination — but Covey wants the world to know that he is not backing down, as he vows to expose “the reality of public schools” in the state of Florida under Ron DeSantis’ authoritarian reign of terror.
Covey’s clip came from his children’s elementary school in Duval County, where he attended a book fair during Literacy Week in January. His son told him that his school was pulling books from the shelves of the library.
“They removed every single book from my children’s classrooms,” Covey wrote in the January 27th tweet. “I read books about the consequences of this when I was in school.”
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” It just didn’t sit right with me, and I couldn’t figure out how, as a parent, to explain why this was happening to my kids,” the teacher and father to a fifth-grade son and second-grade daughter said. “My kids are avid readers, and it just seems so beyond belief that this is the reality of public schools.”
Covey would go on to vent to his colleague at the middle school where he worked, “She responded, ‘You should go check out what we did to our library upstairs.'”
He then posted another short clip to Twitter when he discovered that his own middle school library was full of row after row of bare bookshelves. This damning clip quickly went viral and amassed millions of views nearly overnight.
“Since y’all wanna play the ‘this isn’t really happening’ game,” Covey wrote in the caption of the video of his school’s nearly empty library.
— JagsFanBrian✊🏿✊🏽✊ (@JagsFanBrian) January 27, 2023
House Bill 1467, which took effect in July 2022, requires books and materials be reviewed by a district employee holding a valid educational media specialist certificate. Books must be age-appropriate, free of pornography and ‘suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented.'”
Back in January, educators in Duval County Public Schools were allegedly told to “err on the side of caution” when it came to determining whether or not a book was “developmentally appropriate for student use.”
Covey said Florida educators have been left terrified of violating these new laws and potentially putting their teaching licenses at risk, or even being charged with a felony crime.
The former FL teacher went on to confirm that officials in his school didn’t say a word to him regarding the whole ordeal until his viral clip caught the attention of Governor DeSantis, who immediately labeled it as a “fake narrative” during a February 14th news conference.
“What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to act like somehow we don’t want books,” DeSantis said at the press briefing earlier this month.
“I went to school the next day, and nothing was said to me,” Covey said. But the evening of DeSantis’ presser, three weeks removed from the day he posted the video on Twitter, Covey received a 45-second call with Education Staffing Solutions (ESS) where he was informed of his termination due to a violation of the school’s cell-phone and social-media policy.
“They had the option to just remove me from Mandarin Middle School, but they terminated my access countywide, and they terminated my employment with them,” the former teacher said of ESS, a staffing organization that contracts substitute teachers to the district.
Duval County Public Schools released a public statement to First Coast News, confirming Covey’s termination in connection to his posts on social media.
“In discussion between the district and ESS regarding this individual’s misrepresentation of the books available to students in the school’s library and the disruption this misrepresentation has caused, it was determined that he had violated social-media and cell-phone policies of his employer,” the school district said in their statement. “Therefore, ESS determined these policy violations made it necessary to part ways with this individual.”
The school district has since attempted to implement damage control over the matter, posting their own video to Twitter, accusing Covey’s footage of showing “less than half the story.”
“Yes, those shelves were empty,” the school said in the tweet. “But they were in a room full of books.”
The viral video you are sharing shows less than half the story. Yes, those shelves were empty. But they were in a room full of books. See the video below for the full story. pic.twitter.com/fy50zNS7Ab
— DCPS (@DuvalSchools) February 17, 2023
Covey has continued to fire back:
Since @GovRonDeSantis specifically would like to continue to claim it is a “false narrative” here are the same books shelves but at the end are all the books available to a school of 1200 students 3 weeks into the review of 1.6m titleshttps://t.co/NX2I5rSmaO https://t.co/n2jB4Q6yZd pic.twitter.com/uisovijbAE
— JagsFanBrian✊🏿✊🏽✊ (@JagsFanBrian) February 14, 2023
“The way things were handled and the way I had to publicly defend myself and my kids’ reality, I just need time to decide whether I want to pursue teaching again,” Covey said of the ordeal and his uncertainty as to whether he will continue to pursue teaching in the state of Florida.
“This isn’t a political thing for me, and I’m obviously not trying to profit off of it since I gave up my career to keep going with it,” the former teacher told Newsweek. “My main priority is to make sure that my kids’ reality is known and attached to the people that made it my kids’ reality… I just want my kids to be back to the normal they had a month ago.”
But Brian Covey made one thing damn clear:
I’m willing to take the bullet and go through the heat right now because I know my story is the truth. At this point, until my kids have a new normal, I’m just going to keep sharing the story and making sure that people know that this can happen to them.”
Read Newsweek’s full report here.
Featured image via screen capture