April 22, 2022

The Walton County School District (WCSD), along with many educational systems, recently received a list of over 50 books deemed inappropriate by an outside group. From that list, as Superintendent of Schools, I sought information from district staff regarding the availability and locations of said titles. Staff located 24 of the 50+ books within media centers throughout the District.

Being proactive, I asked staff to remove the books from circulation for the purposes of reviewing and re-evaluating age-appropriateness and content, especially in the context of Florida’s recent legislative session. With reports of movements underway across the state coupled with legal implications and the potential undue stress to my District and staff, I am not willing to place any WCSD personnel in the cross hairs of this kind of perilous circumstance. I want to emphasize that NO “book ban” has occurred in Walton County. Any headlines or news stories as such are misinformation, inaccurate, and false!

The Walton County School District is committed to a culture which we proudly call EPIC. I am steadfast in the vision of excellence, choosing to focus on students and academics in these divisive times. Leaders, teachers, administrators, staff, and families in Walton County are focused on end of the year assessments, achievement, and graduations, which have earned the District the #5 ranking in the State of Florida. I will continue to protect and maintain the trust of the community and do what is right for all students and stakeholders consistent with how I have served as Superintendent for the past six years.

A. Russell Hughes Superintendent of Schools