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Lisa Gartner, Times Staff Writer

Lisa Gartner

Lisa Gartner covers Pinellas County Schools, colleges and universities. Before joining the Times 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

Email: lgartner@tampabay.com

Twitter: @LisaGartner

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  1. For FSU shooter, strong start followed by mental unraveling

    College

    WEWAHITCHKA — There was a knock on the door of the home in this tiny town not 75 miles from Tallahassee, and at the doorstep stood the man who, in a few weeks time, would open fire on students in the library at Florida State University.

    Myron May, a 31-year-old alumnus, had returned to the state that had raised him.

    He had driven to Wewahitchka from New Mexico, where things had not been going so well. He told Abigail Taunton, a long-time family friend whose boys he had run cross-country with, that he was considering declaring bankruptcy....

    The gunman who shot three people at Florida State University's library early Thursday before being killed by police was Myron May, a lawyer who graduated from the school, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. [Facebook.com]
  2. Science lesson at Pinellas Park Elementary saves a student's life (w/video)

    K12

    PINELLAS PARK

    He pressed two fingers to his neck, where the blood branching through his body bumped against bone, and felt for the thump, thump, thump, proof that Tashawn Roberts was alive.

    It was October, and his fifth-grade teacher at Pinellas Park Elementary was leading a lesson on the circulatory system. She told her students to feel for their pulse, first in their wrist, then in the hollow of their necks....

    Pinellas Park Elementary student Tashawn Roberts, 10, is hugged by his teacher, Michelle Digman, while his mother, Teyosha Pippen, looks on. The class was studying the circulatory system when Tashawn found a lump in his neck.
  3. Eckerd College event teaches students the randomness of hunger

    College

    ST. PETERSBURG — "Welcome to the good life," said the butler, pulling out a chair from the table covered in red and cream linens, flowers at the center, the silverware set. "Sit down wherever you'd like."

    Henry Sadler, 20, would have liked to have done that. The smell of garlic bread was a case study in saliva. A basket of sugar varieties accompanied the ice tea selection, and he'd never have to fill his own water glass....

    Eckerd College freshman Jonathan Zieg, 18, begs for donations from the 1% group as its members eat spaghetti and garlic bread Wednesday at the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet.
  4. Wikle says goodbye to Pinellas School Board

    Blog

    Today marked Robin Wikle's last meeting with the Pinellas School Board.

    The District 4 rep was teary-eyed at the morning meeting, where Superintendent Mike Grego and other board members - as well as Wikle's brother - wished her well.

    Wikle announced in February that she'd resign in the middle of her second term; she was elected to the board in 2008, narrowly defeating Ken Peluso, the man who will now take over her seat....

  5. Pinellas School Board sells off school building in St. Pete

    Blog

    North Ward Elementary school, tucked into Old Northeast off St. Pete's 4th Street corridor, was sold Tuesday at a meeting of the Pinellas School Board.

    North Ward Holdings LLC, helmed Jonathan Daou,  purchased the land for $1.7 million. In a letter to the school board, St. Petersburg Preservation said Daou indicated he will reuse, not tear down, the old elementary school....

  6. Boy with Asperger syndrome finds calling as weatherman calming (w/video)

    K12

    PALM HARBOR

    If there had been clouds in the sky, he would have wanted them to be cirrus clouds, because cirrus clouds look like blankets, and Ben thinks blankets are nice. But it was a bright blue sky hovering above Lake St. George Elementary that morning, sweater-weather unspooling into a bronzy-warm afternoon, the kind of day Ben Fain was excited to tell everyone about. The 10-year-old with Asperger syndrome is the weatherman for the school's morning news show. And it was his cue....

    Ben Fain reads off a teleprompter during Monday’s broadcast. Lake St. George Elementary has made strides in learning about autism and working with students diagnosed with the disorder.
  7. Peluso ekes out a win, Flowers dominates in Pinellas School Board races

    K12

    It was the battle of north county, and it was close.

    But retired Palm Harbor chiropractor Ken Peluso narrowly bested former Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris on Tuesday to become the newest member of the Pinellas School Board.

    With 50.4 percent of the vote — and fewer than 700 votes more than his opponent — Peluso claimed the District 4 School Board seat representing Tarpon Springs, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Dunedin and parts of Clearwater....

    Ken Peluso talks with voters on Tuesday in Palm Harbor. He won the Pinellas County School Board District 4 seat.
  8. Others will, but Brevard won't discuss student discipline

    Blog

    Here at Gradebook, we take covering education pretty seriously. We do everything we can to understand complicated issues in our schools so that we can be an authority in reporting the news to you. A few weeks ago, we set out to better get a handle on student discipline. What does it mean to be disciplined in school, and how does that differ across the 20 largest school districts in Florida?...

  9. Flowers faces challenger for School Board seat in struggling District 7

    K12

    The county is carved up into seven pieces, and on the Pinellas School Board, no seat serves a more challenging area than District 7. Home to the elementary school with the lowest reading scores in Florida, District 7 also has the state's second-lowest performing school, as well as the sixth, the 16th and 22nd.

    It's a serious job, and now two natives of the district are fighting to represent it....

    Rene Flowers
  10. Pinellas might ease school policy blocking felons from volunteering

    K12

    Pinellas County school officials are re-examining the district's policy barring parents and other people with felony convictions from volunteering in schools.

    The concern was raised by two candidates for the Pinellas County School Board who say the volunteer rules keep parents convicted of nonviolent, nonsexual offenses from being active in their children's education.

    In August, the Tampa Bay Times told the story of a Lakewood Elementary School PTA president who rallied 60 parents to her meetings, only to lose her post over past felony convictions for check fraud....

  11. Pinellas schools returning M-16 assault rifles

    K12

    The Pinellas County schools police department, which last month defended the purchase of 28 M-16s for its officers, is returning the assault rifles to a federal government surplus program.

    School Board Chairwoman Carol Cook said Wednesday the board should have known about the purchase beforehand, instead of reading about it after the fact in a Tampa Bay Times article.

    Rick Stelljes, the Pinellas schools police chief, said he wanted to return the rifles after much "reflecting."...

    A stock image of an M16 assault rifle. [iStockphoto.com]
  12. John Hopkins dance teacher finds purpose in helping children

    Life

    The power was shut off almost every month, but he'd take out his flashlight and play tag, and so by Tai White's estimation there were much worse things about growing up poor in St. Petersburg. If only his parents had touched more, and his mother hadn't thrown that book, maybe his father wouldn't have left. At 10 years old he was changing his disabled brother's diapers while his mother worked nights. She brought White with her to pay the rent check so the landlord wouldn't get mad they were behind....

    Dance instructor Tai White (center), 28, an adjunct teacher, talks with Katelyn Keen, 12, as Keen was a bit upset that she was having double getting her dance routine correct during Dance 1 part of an arts magnet program at John Hopkins Middle School, 701 16th St S, St Petersburg. About 25-30 students were present for the class which was the first period of the day on Friday morning (9/26/14).
  13. John Hopkins dance teacher finds purpose in helping children

    K12

    The power was shut off almost every month, but he'd take out his flashlight and play tag, and so by Tai White's estimation there were much worse things about growing up poor in St. Petersburg. If only his parents had touched more, and his mother hadn't thrown that book, maybe his father wouldn't have left. At 10 years old he was changing his disabled brother's diapers while his mother worked nights. She brought White with her to pay the rent check so the landlord wouldn't get mad they were behind....

    Dance instructor Tai White, 28, helps 12-year-old Raven Anderson get into the proper position Friday morning during an instruction period at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg.
  14. Pinellas charter schools come under scrutiny

    K12

    LARGO — The point of charter schools is to do better for students. They have the freedom to think outside the box, innovating with longer school days or years, gender-segregated classrooms and more, all in the name of providing better options for children than the traditional system can.

    But four Pinellas County charter schools came under fire this week from the School Board after standardized test scores indicated subpar student performance....

  15. Pinellas schools buy assault rifles from military surplus program

    K12

    The Pinellas County School District has purchased 28 M-16 assault rifles from the federal government and is preparing to assign them to school police officers in the coming weeks, the chief of the police unit said Wednesday.

    The district is one of at least 120 education organizations, including the University of South Florida, that have received military gear as part of a Defense Department program that came under increased scrutiny in August after the heavily armed police response to tensions in Ferguson, Mo....