Failure factories

On Dec. 18, 2007, the Pinellas County School Board abandoned integration. They justified the vote with bold promises: Schools in poor, black neighborhoods would get more money, more staff, more resources. They delivered none of that.

This is the story of how district leaders turned five once-average schools into Failure Factories.

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Major developments

Read the series

Prologue Aug. 12, 2015

Why Pinellas County is the worst place in Florida to be black and go to public school

A series of charts that sheds light on the county’s alarming failure rate.

Part One Aug. 14, 2015

How the Pinellas County School Board neglected five schools until they became the worst in Florida

First they abandoned integration. Then they failed to send help. Now, five once-decent schools in St. Petersburg are among the very worst in the state.

Part Two Aug. 21, 2015

Violence is a part of daily life in Pinellas County’s most segregated elementary schools

Five elementary schools had more violence than all 17 high schools combined.

Part Three Oct. 17, 2015

In five segregated schools, kids get worse teachers

An exodus of veteran teachers left rookies to take on some of the county’s most challenging students.

Video: Teachers describe worsening conditions

More photos of the children we interviewed

Hear from the kids Sept. 1, 2015

For 31 kids, this is what it’s like to go to resegregated schools

Children tell of fear, failing and a certainty that something better must be out there.

Part Four Dec. 6, 2015

45,942 days lost to discipline

Pinellas suspends black kids more than virtually every other big Florida district.

Part Five Dec. 23, 2015

For most black students in Pinellas, the county’s best schools are out of reach

District leaders made a series of decisions that added up to fewer black children getting into special programs called “fundamental” schools.

Epilogue Dec. 29, 2015

Trying to get out of some of the worst schools in Florida

Every family has its own story, but most want the same thing: To flee south St. Petersburg’s failing schools any way they can.

Hear from the School Board Aug. 14, 2015

7 elected school officials respond

We asked questions about the five schools in the series. Here’s what they said.

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Complete coverage

Pinellas schools chief tries to reassure parents Aug. 21, 2015

A community forum on the topic drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 150.

Officials announce stepped-up efforts Aug. 17, 2015

The district plans to convert some of the failing schools to magnet programs.

Times education reporters Cara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner, investigative reporter Michael LaForgia and photographer Dirk Shadd spent a year tracing how Pinellas County School District leaders have neglected their neediest schools. The articles were written while LaForgia was participating in the National Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism.