Florida teacher who posted viral video of empty library fired day after DeSantis claimed it was a ‘fake narrative’
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis visits 2019 Miami Open at the Hard Rock Stadium in 2019. (Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com)

Late last month a Florida teacher posted a video of a school library where almost every shelf was empty. The video went viral, getting millions of views. Now, the teacher who posted that video has been fired.

Earlier this week Governor Ron DeSantis was asked about the video, he claimed it was a “fake narrative,” and “not true.” DeSantis told reporters the shelves were empty because “they hadn’t put the books out yet to begin with.”

School libraries at the end of January rarely have empty shelves because librarians hadn’t gotten around to filling them.

“Brian Covey, a substitute teacher at Mandarin Middle School, posted a video on Jan. 27 showing rows of empty bookshelves in the school’s library. The jarring video quickly went viral and now has over 13 million views, it made national headlines and was even fodder on a late night talk show,” First Coast News reports.

“On Wednesday, nearly three weeks after the video was posted, Covey said he was fired.”

“In discussion between the district and ESS,” a statement from Duval County Public Schools reads, “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, First Coast News reports, is the company that hires substitute teachers. Their statement does not say what was allegedly misrepresented.

On January 31, First Coast News spoke with Covey, before he had been fired.

Their report, and many others, state that because of DeSantis’ laws, administrators or librarians have to review every book in the entire school.

But DeSantis told reporters reviewing a book should only take “two minutes,” and said his Dept. of Education would be happy to help school officials if they had a question about a specific book.

During that same press conference, DeSantis was asked why a popular book about baseball great Roberto Clemente had also been pulled from school shelves.

The Florida governor, expected to launch a presidential campaign soon, lashed out at the reporter, first blaming “politics,” then “teachers’ unions,” then claiming the story itself was “a joke” and “manufactured” while never accepting the impact the legislation he has supported, promoted, signed into law, and used to brand himself as a protector of children has had a devastating effect on those very children he claims to want to protect.

DeSantis appeared to be wholly uninformed as to what schools and students are going through as a result of his laws, which include his “Don’t Say Gay” law.

“More than 1 million books in Duval County schools in Florida are subject to review due to three state laws impacting certain subjects in education, including race, gender and sexual orientation,” ABC News reported this week, confirming the Roberto Clemente book was pulled from school shelves, citing communication from county officials.

“As required by state law, we are in the process of having certified media specialists review all classroom library books,” Tracy Pierce, chief of marketing and public relations at Duval County Public Schools told ABC News. “There are approximately 1.6 million titles in our classroom and media center libraries that need to be reviewed by a certified media specialist.”