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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


Twitter: @LisaGartner

  1. Kate Spade Saturday offers 40 percent off as it closes


    Most of you by now have heard the thunderclap in the arena signaling that Kate Spade Saturday has been killed by another tribute. At the end of January, the high-end brand announced it would close all 19 Kate Spade Saturday retail and partner stores by summer, leaving its website active in the meantime....

    Customize your own The Custom Weekender bag on for $220 (or $132 with discount). I mocked this one up with my initials. There's also a smaller version available for a little less.
  2. Federal discrimination complaint filed over alleged assault of girl at middle school


    Times Staff Writers

    A couple who says their 12-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted during band class at John Hopkins Middle School last month filed a discrimination complaint against the school Thursday with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

    The girl's mother, Annette Vedsegaard-Ross, wrote in the complaint that her daughter was targeted because she is female and that the attackers likely knew she suffers from a hearing disability. The Tampa Bay Times reported Jan. 30 that the family believes the Pinellas County School District and John Hopkins administrators attempted to minimize the assault to protect the school's reputation....

  3. Looking for home decor? Try your clothes


    I am finally in that stage of my life where I know it's frowned upon to go to Goodwill and buy a new pair of jeans instead of just going to the damn laundromat. So I started going to the laundromat every week -- just kidding, I moved to an apartment with a washer-dryer! I am a child.

    While moving is stressful (I timed mine around Christmas, to impress the Olympic judges), I really love getting to decorate my new place. My old stuff, some from six apartments ago, finds new life and use in each home. I have a heavy old bookcase that's taken turns as a dish display case and a bath towel organizer. It's fun making everything fit....

    Your hat collection could make for a neat display.
  4. Pinellas considering teacher training partnership with USF St. Pete


    Pinellas Superintendent Mike Grego is in preliminary talks with the University of South Florida St. Petersburg to create a teacher's school, mirroring a partnership the district recently formed with St. Petersburg College.

    Grego told the school board the "lab school" was in "the very preliminary idea stage," explaining he only wanted to bring it up at Tuesday's workshop so that board members wouldn't hear whispers from someone else....

  5. Two students arrested at Lakewood High over ice pick, fake gun


    ST. PETERSBURG — Two students were arrested for bringing a fake handgun and an ice pick to Lakewood High School today, St. Petersburg Police said.

    The school was on lockdown from 10:20 to 11:36 a.m. as police and gun-sniffing dogs searched for weapons.

    The incident began when a student alerted the school resource officer that another student may have a gun on campus, St. Petersburg Police spokesman Mike Puetz said....

  6. Glitch withholds kindergarten assignments from 670 Pinellas families


    It was a big morning for parents across Pinellas County: Results of the annual school lottery for spots in magnet and fundamental schools were set to be available online when families woke up Wednesday.

    But the parents of 670 incoming kindergarten students were instead thrown for a loop by a computer message saying their child wasn't old enough to receive a spot in the school system.

    Pinellas County Schools spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra said not to fear: These kids did receive seats or spots on wait lists; but due to an apparent glitch, families won't be able to see them until noon....

  7. In John Hopkins sex assault case, school's handling in question


    ST. PETERSBURG — It was almost too heavy for her to carry, but she fell for the saxophone all the same, practicing in the band room at John Hopkins Middle School. She named her instrument "Reed." It made her feel calm. She would come in an hour early to play. She would stay long after the last bell.

    Then one recent Monday, the 12-year-old girl hurried out of school. She was pale. Her face was drawn....

    Annette Vedsegaard-Ross and Stephen Ross talk about their daughter, whom they withdrew from John Hopkins Middle School after she says she was sexually assaulted in the band room. They agreed to be identified for this report.
  8. Pinellas proposes spending $1 million to improve behavior at five schools


    LARGO — Pinellas County school officials want to spend $1 million to teach classroom management techniques to teachers and administrators at struggling St. Petersburg elementary schools.

    The partnership with the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit based in Brooklyn, started at Campbell Park Elementary, one of five schools undergoing significant turnaround efforts, deputy superintendent Bill Corbett said at a School Board workshop this week....

  9. Charter schools vary in focus, providing another option for families


    Looking for an alternative to a traditional public school, but not willing or able to pony up private school tuition? Look no further than the district's growing network of charter schools.

    If you don't know too much about charter schools, you're not alone: In Pinellas, they've only taken off in the last few years. This year, more than 6,000 students attend charters, more than double the number who did five years ago, as new campuses open every year....

    Students at Plato Academy of Tarpon Springs perform Kounelaki, a Greek nursery rhyme, while Skyping with fifth- and sixth-graders at the 1st school in Kalymnos, their sister school in Greece.
  10. Private schools boom as economy picks up


    When the bottom fell out of the economy, thousands of Florida families pulled their children out of private schools. With a second mortgage, who could afford the luxury? But with the economic rebound has come a resurgence of interest in private schools as more and more families are able to sign tuition checks.

    Private school enrollment hit 325,000 in Florida last year, the largest number of students since the 2007-08 school year. That's about 11 percent of the state's school-aged children....

  11. Using Gates money, Pinellas schools plan a shift toward 'personalized' learning


    The Pinellas school system is planning to restructure its classrooms to meet students' individual interests, beginning with a handful of secondary schools but eventually refiguring the entire district.

    Called "personalized learning," the approach will take hold next fall in new programs at Northeast, Clearwater, Seminole and Pinellas Park high schools in an effort to engage students and graduate them at greater rates....

    Lealman Intermediate, an alternative school in St. Petersburg, will reopen as Lealman Innovation Academy and accept districtwide applications for grades 6 through 12.
  12. Pinellas grad rate increases even as school grades fall


    When high school grades were released today, Pinellas wasn't able to maintain its all A's and B's status that it achieved for the first time last year.

    Yet Pinellas boasted the largest hike in its graduation rate in the Tampa Bay region: 76.2 percent of students graduated, up 4.3 percentage points over 2013.

    Regardless, no Pinellas high schools improved their grade this year as the state made it a more difficult feat....

  13. Pinellas school officials crafting an official message to Tallahassee: slow down, reduce testing


    LARGO — Pinellas school officials said Tuesday that they will formally call on the Legislature to slow down as changes in the state's school accountability system take effect this year.

    The district joins several other Florida school systems — including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Polk and Duval — in requesting that the state limit consequences for students and schools as it transitions to new tests and standards....

  14. Eckerd president blames college sexual assaults on excess drinking, casual sex


    ST. PETERSBURG — Amid a national discussion about how colleges and universities respond to campus sexual assaults, Eckerd College president Donald Eastman III is urging students to "do your part."

    How? By drinking less and abstaining from casual sex, he said in an email to students Sunday to underscore a campus awareness campaign.

    "Virtue in the area of sexuality is its own reward, and has been held in high esteem in Western Culture for millennia because those who are virtuous are happier as well as healthier," Eastman wrote to Eckerd's 1,800 undergraduate students. "No one's culture or character or understanding is improved by casual sex, and the physical and psychological risks to both genders are profound."...

    Eckerd president Donald Eastman III sent an email to students.
  15. For FSU shooter, strong start followed by mental unraveling


    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. []