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Lisa Gartner, Times Staff Writer

Lisa Gartner

Lisa Gartner covers higher education for the Times. Previously, she covered Pinellas County Schools. Before joining the newspaper in 2013, Lisa covered D.C. Public Schools for The Washington Examiner. Herself a product of Florida public schools, Lisa grew up in Palm Beach County. She attended Northwestern University after purchasing a very heavy coat.

Phone: (727) 893-8707


Twitter: @LisaGartner

  1. Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego moves to overhaul leadership at troubled schools


    LARGO — Principals at three of five failing elementary schools will be replaced at the end of the school year, the latest of several major steps being taken to transform the south St. Petersburg campuses, superintendent Mike Grego announced late Tuesday.

    Melrose, the lowest-performing elementary school in Florida, will get a new principal. So will Campbell Park and Fairmount Park. No decision has been made about the principals at Maximo and Lakewood....

    Students line up to participate in a no-referral party at Lakewood Elementary, one of the “Failure Factories” schools


    You know the old adage that, before you leave the house, you should remove one accessory? Well, throw out grandma's ring AND toss those bracelets in the gutter, because you're about to arm yourself with America's favorite accessory: free Kahwa coffee.

    Once again, this is not a drill.

    In honor of Kahwa's 10th anniversary, the beloved local coffee purveyor is holding a "10 Days of Kahwa" celebration with new deals and surprises announced every day....

    All these treasures can be yours.
  3. Black leaders skeptical about district plan to fix 'Failure Factories'


    ST. PETERSBURG — Black leaders on Wednesday vented frustration at being left out of new proposals to aid St. Petersburg's black students and failing schools, but said they welcomed the spotlight that has been cast on the problem.

    They said that a revolving cast of district officials have come before, with promises and plans but little change.

    "We've had conversations with people who preceded you and here we are having it again," said Goliath Davis, a former police chief and deputy mayor, during a packed meeting of the Concerned Organization for Quality Education for Black Students. ...

    Wednesday's meeting of the Concerned Organization for Quality Education for Black Students drew a full house as discussion centered around five failing schools in St. Petersburg and a decision by the U.S. Department of Education to investigate whether the Pinellas school district has violated black students' civil rights. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. U.S. Education Department opens civil rights investigation into Pinellas schools


    The U.S. Department of Education on Monday opened a civil rights investigation into whether the Pinellas County School District systematically discriminates against black children, the agency said.

    The review will determine if Pinellas is denying black children access to the courses and special programs they need to be successful in high school and after graduation.

    It also will assess whether the district is denying black children access to quality teachers, school leaders and support staff, an education department official told the Tampa Bay Times....

    During an Oct. 24, 2015 visit to St. Petersburg, then-U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan (left) and his successor, John King, spoke with the media at Campbell Park Elementary. Duncan said Pinellas County school district leaders had commited "education malpractice" by allowing Campbell Park and four other elementaries to decline so badly. Five months later, the department is launching a civil rights investigation into whether the district is discriminating against black students. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. In the post-Jameis Winston era, what is FSU telling its athletes about rape?


    TALLAHASSEE — Last school year, as it's well known, the quarterback of Florida State University's football team was investigated after a classmate accused him of rape. A defensive end was accused of filming the act; a cornerback, of looking on.

    So when the university announced in February the launch of a new, mandatory leadership course for freshmen athletes, promising to help them "make the most of their college years and grow into well-rounded adults," it was not surprising that one of the first courses would discuss sexual assault. ...

    Quarterback Jameis Winston joins his teammates in the 2014 ACC championship. The charge against him was a cloud over football.
  6. Parents attended forum on struggling St. Pete schools


    Pinellas school officials held a community forum at Lakewood High School last night, where they shared details of a proposed plan to transform the five struggling schools in south St. Petersburg.

    Notably, Antonio Burt, director of school leadership, said teachers could make up to $25,000 more next year under a plan to extend the school day, increase merit pay and add professional development days....

  7. Guess what? I don't have to stab myself in the eye with a mascara wand anymore


    I have bad vision like the pope has religion.

    When I don't have contacts or glasses in, I can't tell that the people around me are human. I have mistaken a laptop bag for my dog. If my glasses fall off my nightstand, it can take several minutes before I find them on the floor. Sometimes my laptop bag/dog finds them first.

    So on days when I want to wear my glasses but also put on makeup, everything is a nightmare, because I can't see my face as I am applying makeup....

    I still might, but it will be on me.
  8. Pinellas proposes pay bump up to $25,000 for teachers at struggling schools


    ST. PETERSBURG — Teachers and administrators at five struggling elementary schools stand to make up to $25,000 more next year, one of several major reforms proposed to transform the south St. Petersburg campuses, Pinellas County schools officials said Tuesday night.

    These educators would have to reinterview for their jobs at Campbell Park, Fairmount Park, Lakewood, Maximo and Melrose elementaries as district leaders look to recruit top talent from other areas of the county and outside its borders....

    Assistant principal Heidi Bockover Goldstein gets a high five as students exit the cafeteria in 2014 after an assembly at Melrose Elementary, one of five schools targeted for major reform by Pinellas County school officials. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  9. USF director placed on paid leave for prior conduct at Texas Tech


    The director of the University of South Florida's advertising and communications school was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday after a report emerged that he had intimate relations with three students at his previous job at Texas Tech University.

    According to a Texas Tech report, Samuel Bradley admitted in 2009 to exchanging sexual text messages with a graduate student and kissing her. Married at the time, Bradley promised he would stop the relationship. But it and two others, including one with an undergraduate, continued through at least August 2012....

    Samuel Bradley’s conduct at USF is being investigated. 
  10. Audit: USF broke law with hefty payouts to former athletic director, coach


    The University of South Florida paid a former athletic director and assistant football coach $626,000 more than the state's legal limit for compensation, according to a report released Wednesday by Florida's auditor general.

    In 2014, USF paid former athletic director Doug Woolard $610,000 — $100,000 more than Woolard's annual salary and $415,000 beyond what the director should have legally received, according to the audit....

    A state audit has flagged the severance package USF gave former athletic director Doug Woolard. In 2014, the university let Woolard go after a string of disappointing seasons in football and basketball. The audit said Woolard’s $610,000 pay out was $415,000 more than what was legally allowed.  [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] 
  11. Nasty weather delays MacDill's AirFest, then gives way to clearer skies, smiles


    TAMPA — They had been in the car for nearly two hours, and their two young children were in the back seat. So when Matt Smith and his wife pulled up to MacDill Air Force Base for its AirFest 2016 celebration Saturday, only to find the gates of the base being shut, they were not pleased.

    "The good part is we brought some Goldfish crackers and snacks, and we plied them with food," said Smith, 39, who tried another entrance before giving up on AirFest and driving his toddlers back to St. Petersburg....

    ZACK WITTMAN   |   Times
One of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds passes over MacDill upside-down as the precision flying team performed for the crowd and their cameras.

  12. In which Lauren B's Bachelor finale dress looked all too familiar


    I have given up apologizing for watching The Bachelor, you hear me? Too many of my smartest, classiest female friends watch it and enjoy it for me to feel the need to defend it as good television. Also, have you ever even seen it, Becky? WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE. #thehillshaveeyes

    Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I want to tell you about a bout of déjà vu I had when watching the finale on Monday. Ben Higgins, the bachelor in question, popped the question to his season-long frontrunner, flight attendant Lauren Bushnell....

    Just some classy grownups in the photo booth at Eve's wedding. Who wore it best: A beautiful woman getting engaged, or this shipwreck? Spy Divas Katie and Stephanie here with me.
  13. BOG moves to send foster kids to graduate school for free


    Under Florida law, foster children who are admitted to a public state college or university are entitled to free tuition. But a Board of Governors has limited those students to a 120 credit-hour undergraduate degree, frustrating those foster students who take longer to graduate, or who want to pursue graduate-level courses.

    The Tampa Bay Times reported in January that the Board of Governors had quietly told state universities to ignore its rule after lawyers on behalf of two students filed a petition against the Board. Legislation seeking to nullify the regulation was dropped after the Board committed to examine it....

  14. My Outfit Monday: Keeping cozy on a dreary day


    When you're sick, the weather's bad, or you're just still bummed about Amy Poehler's marriage not working out, there's nothing like comfort food: mac and cheese, soup, chocolate cake, etc.

    Getting dressed this morning, I realized I have "comfort clothes." That even when it's pretty warm out, if it's raining and gross and Monday, all I want to do is burrow into soft pants and a big sweater....

    When it rains I ask myself, "How can my outfit be most like a blanket?"
  15. USF President Judy Genshaft awarded new contract, raise of up to 8 percent


    TAMPA — Judy Genshaft's status as one of the top-paid public university presidents in the country was preserved Thursday morning as the University of South Florida's Board of Trustees approved a hefty raise in her new contract.

    Under the one-year deal, Genshaft's base salary would become $493,500, a 5 percent bump. But with a bonus based on performance, and deferred compensation, Genshaft could make up to $867,200, an 8.2 percent increase over what she stands to make this year....

    USF president Judy Genshaft posed with graduate Matt Jackson poses with during graduation last year. Genshaft, president since 2000, was awarded a contract extension and a raise on Thursday. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]