DeSantis reacts to district’s removal of Roberto Clemente book, says controversy ‘manufactured’

Ron DeSantis and Florida seal

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During a news conference in Jacksonville Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis forcefully defended his administration’s education policies, especially as they relate to the review and removal of “inappropriate” content from schools.

According to Local 10′s Jacksonville news partner, WJXT, Duval County schools recently removed a book about Puerto Rican baseball legend “Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates,” by Jonah Winter and Raúl Colón, as part of a “review” for age appropriateness.

The District told WJXT in September that the decision to pull 176 books from shelves for review was not prompted by any parent complaints. Many of the books dealt with race, gender or sexual orientation.

A blurb for the Clemente book describes the racism the outfielder endured.

“As a right-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he fought tough opponents—and even tougher racism—but with his unreal catches and swift feet, he earned his nickname, ‘The Great One,’” it reads.

The 176 books were purchased as part of the “Essential Voices” collection, a curated list of books focused on diversity and inclusion, WJXT reports.

DeSantis responded to concerns over book banning by largely dismissing them.

“Any time you hear about something that seems so outlandish, just understand, they’re manufacturing that to try to create a narrative,” DeSantis said.

The governor placed the blame on politics.

“Come on. I mean, we know Roberto Clemente,” he said. “I mean, seriously. That’s politics.”

DeSantis hypothesized on who was to blame.

“I think the school unions are involved with this,” he said.

The governor did not provide evidence to back up that assertion, but told reporters they could make public records requests on communications to find out more.

“I don’t think parents are challenging that, I think they’re doing it unilaterally to try to create an issue,” DeSantis said. “But that can be resolved in about two minutes to be able to do that. And our Department of Education will be working, you know, very quickly, if they need any type of advice on that. But none of these things, 99% of this stuff is just is manufactured. It’s not what you need to be spending time on.”

About the Author:

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.