News Roundup

Jasmine Bedwell demonstrates how Richard McTear Jr. threw her baby during testimony in his murder trial.SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

Key witness takes stand in McTear murder trial

TAMPA — A year after she caused a mistrial, Jasmine Bedwell came to court again, appearing nervous and eager not to make another mistake. On Wednesday, the second day of the state's murder trial of Richard McTear Jr., his defense attorneys took Bedwell, the defendant's former girlfriend, back to the predawn hours o …

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    Jolly explains his position on gay marriage

    Ripped by some for supporting same-sex marriage, Rep. David Jolly of Pinellas County has issued this letter to constituents:...

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    State Rep. Dwight Dudley's wife to play judge on CBS show 'Reckless'

    ST. PETERSBURG ­­— Mary Rachel Dudley, the wife of state Rep. Dwight Dudley, will play a judge in the CBS television series Reckless on Sunday....

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    Hillsborough's McLane Middle School sends scores of students to expulsion hearings

    McLane Middle School recommended 35 students for expulsion this past year - far more than any other school in Hillsborough County, according to a report that went out to the School Board this week.

    To put that number in perspective, it's rougly one in every 26 students. Districtwide, including special education students who cannot be expelled, the number works out to one in every 400.

    McLane has been in Brandon, in one form or another, for a full century. In addition to local students, the district buses students to McLane from east Tampa. The school has a STEM program and a competitive robotics team. The school's poverty rate, measured by participation in the free lunch program, is 86 percent, and the minority population is 84 percent according to the state.

    Looking at the past year's climate surveys, conditions at McLane are not up to par with the rest of the district. The overall student satisfaction rate was 54 percent, compared with 75 percent districtwide. Only 23 percent of McLane's students felt safe, compared with 69 percent districtwide. Teachers gave the school a 54 percent approval rate, compared with 77 percent for all middle schools and 80 percent districtwide. The numbers were especially low in student conduct, with only 3 percent of teachers agreeing with the statement: "Students at this school follow rules of conduct."

    Districtwide, the number of expulsion hearings dropped this year, a trend that has existed for the last five years. And the majority (345) were recommended for a change of placement. Another 109 could not be expelled because they are in special education.

    Of the remaining 391, 10 were in elementary school, all male and seven of them African-American. The largest number, 292, were in middle schools. Of that group, 56 percent (164) were black. In the high schools, the 164 students recommended for expulsion included 69 who were black -- or 42 percent. Wharton High had the most at 15, followed by Chamberlain, which had 12. Drugs were the most common cause of an expulsion hearing in high school while in middle school it was a category called "continuous disruptive."...

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