Florida Substitute Teacher Fired for Phony Photo of Empty School Bookshelves

Just three weeks after posting a video on Twitter showing rows of empty bookshelves at a Florida Middle School, substitute teacher Brian Covey says he’s been fired.

Brian Covey, the substitute teacher at Mandarin Middle School, posted a video on Jan. 27 showing rows of empty bookshelves in the school’s library in an attempt to substantiate the narrative that Governor Ron DeSantis and his office are in the habit of broad-scale “book banning.” The video quickly went viral and now has over 13 million views; it made national headlines and was even mentioned on a late-night talk show.

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The video came after orders from the state for teachers and librarians to “err on the side of caution” in making decisions about the content they make available to students. The order offers further advisements as well.

“If you would not be comfortable reading the material in a public setting, then you should lean toward not making the material available in a public school library for children.”

When faced with stories of broad-book banning that the video promotes, DeSantis called it a “fake narrative.”

“That video, that was a fake narrative, that was not true,” the governor said. “What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to act like somehow we don’t want books.”

Many DeSantis critics have taken to Twitter, labeling the firing as another example of “fascism” under DeSantis.

Even freshman progressive Congressman Maxwell Frost weighed in.

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However, it appears that DeSantis was correct. Duval county schools gave First Coast News a statement regarding Covey’s termination.


“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. Therefore, ESS determined these policy violations made it necessary to part ways with this individual.”

ESS is the organization that hires substitute teachers for the county.

So what was this misrepresentation? While Duval school county officials admitted that there was a  reduction in available books at the time to screen them for approval, they made clear the shelves were never empty. DCPS Superintendent Diana Green said as much in a Thursday letter to district employees, explaining the situation.

“We did direct teachers to temporarily reduce their classroom library collections to titles that were previously approved while waiting for media specialists to curate a more expansive list of approved titles. However, at no time should a classroom have been without reading resources.”

Multiple Twitter users were sure to champion this point as well.


Even if that many books were made unavailable, which Duval County denies, nothing in the Florida state orders requires all of a school’s books to be vetted at once or removed.


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