Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is once again spending his time stomping down on vulnerable folks. In this instance, as reported by The Washington Post, the substitute teacher who went viral for posting a video of empty bookshelves in a middle school library has been fired. Why? Brian Covey, a substitute teacher at Mandarin Middle School, says he has been fired over violating a cellphone and social media policy. What’s notable here is that DeSantis referred to the same viral video as a “fake narrative” during a recent press conference.
“That video, that was a fake narrative, that was not true,” DeSantis said at the press conference in Jacksonville, Florida. Seemingly without clarifying who “they” refers to, DeSantis said, “they’re trying to act like somehow we don’t want books.”
Given that the DeSantis administration is pushing book bans and anti-LGBTQ+ laws under the guise of “parental rights” and “parental consent,” it’s actually totally logical why people are acting like he doesn’t want books. (Because that’s how he is acting: like he doesn’t want books, or at least, not certain kinds of books.)
The Duval County Public School district confirmed to local outlet First Coast News in a statement that Covey had been let go because of his social media. It took about three weeks between Covey posting the video on Jan. 27 and his termination.
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Here’s that original viral tweet.
In speaking to News 4 Jax, Covey shared he doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that he was fired after DeSantis’ comments.
“They basically said my services were no longer needed,” Covey told the outlet in an interview in reference to the ESS, the organization that contracts substitutes for the school district. He added that they said they received “multiple complaints” about cellphone and social media usage.
ESS addressed the situation in a statement, saying that the individual misrepresented the available books in the school library and caused a “disruption.”
“It was determined that he had violated social media and cell phone policies of his employer,” the statement continued. “Therefore, ESS determined these policy violations made it necessary to part ways with this individual.”
The Duval County Public Schools Twitter account responded to Covey’s tweets with its own video, accusing Covey of posting just part of the “story.”
“Books were something that was so fundamental for me,” Covey told News 4 Jax. “And to see my kids not able to take their extra time and go to the library and pick out a random [book], that curiosity is lost.”
If DeSantis weren’t itching for a certain presidential nomination in 2024, somehow, I don’t think book bans would even be on the table. And it’s kids and teenagers who are paying the price.