Polk schools remove driver manuals promoting 'selfies' behind th - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Polk schools remove driver manuals promoting 'selfies' behind the wheel

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A page from the “Florida Driver Handbook” issued by Lowest Price Traffic School out of Jacksonville. A page from the “Florida Driver Handbook” issued by Lowest Price Traffic School out of Jacksonville.
A page from the “Florida Driver Handbook” issued by Lowest Price Traffic School out of Jacksonville. A page from the “Florida Driver Handbook” issued by Lowest Price Traffic School out of Jacksonville.
POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The Polk County School Board has changed its tune about drivers manuals handed out at Kathleen High School last week.

On Friday, 8 On Your side contacted the School Board after a parent found the book to be disturbing. The book, issued by The National Safety Commission, contains ads that tell teens they don’t need to study for the driver’s test and promotes taking “selfies” behind the wheel.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for the Polk County Public Schools, said the books were state issued and there was nothing out-of-line about them. As it turns out, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles does not support or provide the books, and told the school board that last year.

Mothers tell their children it's what's on the inside that counts. And Melissa Mijka's daughter took that to heart when she brought home a drivers manual handed out at Kathleen High School last week.

"She’s the one who brought it to me and said, 'Mom, look, this isn’t right.' This is the book I got from school to study for my driving test," Mijka said.

From the outside it carries an official look, but inside there are pages promoting selfies behind the wheel, ads telling teens not to study for the driver’s test and photos of kids at the wheel without a seat belt.

“The kids don't know this wasn't published by the DMV,” Mijka said. “So my next step is to go to the DMV and get her a real handbook.”

“The school needs to be a little more cognizant of what they're handing our kids,” Mijka said.

More: Take the Florida DMV Practice Test

Why did the students get their hands on the manuals in the first place and isn't there some sort of screening process that goes through the materials handed out? 8 On Your Side had those questions for the Polk County School Board and wanted to ask them in person. All they would give us was a written response.

Here’s the statement provided Monday afternoon to the inquiry made Friday:

"We are aware of the concerns raised about the driver license handbook made available to students at Kathleen High School. At this time, we are working to assess the situation at hand. What we can guarantee, is that in the future, the driver license handbooks produced by the National Safety Commission will no longer be available to students at any Polk County Public Schools' high school. We take seriously, the importance of providing our students with accurate information to keep them safe while driving."

It's decision that came a little too late, says Melissa Mijka.

She wants to know why the schools didn't trash the books last year when ever Superintendent in the state was issued a letter from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles warning about the book in question and informing them they had no affiliation.

“They absolutely need to look at what they're handing our children,” Mijka said.

The National Safety Commission also responded to 8 On Your Side’s story by making a change. In an e-mail they stated a photo with a teen driver not wearing a seatbelt will be removed from future publications.

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