Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart announced Monday that her department would conduct an investigation of standardized testing in public schools, following months of criticism from school boards, teachers and parents across the state.
In a statement, the Department of Education said Stewart will "work closely with districts to gather complete and accurate information on the tests being administered to meet federal, state and local requirements."...
HOLIDAY — A sheriff's sergeant fired four rounds at a Holiday man early Friday, striking him in the lower torso, after the man battered his girlfriend, refused to leave his home and charged at deputies with a heavy wooden nightstand, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Arrest reports released Monday by the Sheriff's Office revealed additional information about the domestic battery and subsequent standoff between deputies and 42-year-old Aaron Martin....
Helped by a booming demand for bank-owned properties, the Tampa Bay area was among the most robust in Florida in November for sales of both condos and single family homes.
And while the bay area's median sale prices continued to be on the low side, there was some good news there, too.
Of Florida's 20 metropolitan areas, Tampa Bay ranked fifth-highest in single-family home sales with a year-over-year jump in November of 18.4 percent. The median price rose 6.7 percent, to $160,000. ...
TAMPA — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that homeless advocate Bruce Wright's filed against the city of St. Petersburg, which banned him from a park after an arrest last year.
Wright was arrested in March 2013 after police said he interfered with an arrest at Williams Park, often a hub for homeless in St. Petersburg. He also was issued a trespass warning and ordered to stay out of the park for a year. ...
TAMPA — Two of the seven people injured by a lightning strike after Sunday's Buccaneers game remain hospitalized, one in critical condition and the other with non-life threatening injuries, officials said Monday.
All of the victims were taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa after lightning struck an SUV in parking lot 14 of Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Fire Rescue said.
Five were treated and released Sunday night, St. Joseph's Hospital spokeswoman Nancy Gay said. One is in critical condition and the other has non-life threatening injuries. The ages of the patients range from the early 20s to a man in his in 70s....
LARGO -- A former mental health counselor was sentenced on Monday to six months in the Pinellas County Jail plus six years probation, for having sexual relations with one patient and stealing from another.
Richard Walter Fedora, 66, pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct by a psychotherapist, and grand theft, both felonies. Under the terms of his probation, he cannot work in the mental health field and cannot contact his victims....
Office supply chain Staples said hackers broke into its computers and stole data on 1.16 million shoppers' credit cards and debit cards at 115 of its approximately 1,400 stores. Affected stores include 16 in Florida, among them two in the Tampa Bay market and one in nearby Bradenton.
Staples apologized saying the company "is committed to protecting customer data and... has taken steps to enhance the security of its point-of-sale systems, including the use of new encryption tools."...
TARPON SPRINGS — Jacqueline Kurchinski, 10, of Chapada dos Guimarães, Brazil, played Amazing Grace on her violin as her sister Caroline Kurchinski, 9, held flowers Monday morning amid an impromptu memorial for slain Tarpon Springs Police Officer Charles Kondek.
Kondek was shot and killed early Sunday morning as he investigated a noise complaint. Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., 23, was arrested after a short car chase and charged with first-degree murder. Parilla was wanted for a probation violation and told investigators he didn't want to go back to prison....
PODS, the Clearwater-based portable moving and storage pioneer, is being sold in its entirety to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.
But no need to pack up the moving van or put any office equipment into its namesake storage containers.
The parent company of PODS said the firm's headquarters will remain in Clearwater — with the current management staying in place — under a binding agreement with Ontario Teachers announced early Monday....
Santa better pack his slicker.
There is an 80 percent chance for rain Christmas Eve in Tampa Bay, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez. Those clouds could linger into Christmas Day.
A cold front will hit the area during the day Wednesday, breaking a brief spell of above-average temperatures. Marquez said highs will reach the mid to upper 70s Monday and Tuesday with a chance for some scattered showers and thunderstorms....
For the Bucs' sake, let's hope Santa Claus wasn't watching Sunday, because if he was, he saw a whole lot more bad than good against the Green Bay Packers, winners of a 20-3 snoozer.
On offense, the Buccaneers (2-13) opened the game by going three-and-out on their first five possessions and on six of their first seven. Twenty-five minutes in, they had gained a grand total of 0 yards. That's right. ZERO....
Bucs DE Michael Johnson:
"It's like basketball on grass. They got guys going everywhere. They know what they are doing. It's like a well-oiled machine. They are a good offensive football team."
Bucs coach Lovie Smith:
"When you talk about a frustrating day, this was a frustrating day. I've had some bad ones. This was definitely one of them. … That's just a great football team on the other side. We haven't had many days like this. So maybe we ought to give them a little more credit also."...
TARPON SPRINGS — By day, "Charlie K" was a good dad. By night, he was known as a good cop.
Tarpon Springs police Officer Charles Kondek worked the midnight shift so that he could watch his 15-year-old daughter Aleena's soccer practices and travel around with her wherever she played.
Kondek, 45, was a family man, and she was his youngest child. She had just gotten her learner's permit and her father was teaching her how to drive....
GIBSONTON — Police officials on Sunday called Marco Parilla Jr. a coward, a bad guy and a cop killer.
The portrayal stunned his family, who described the 23-year-old as "quiet" and "nice," not someone who could possibly gun down a police officer.
"He was a nice kid. I raised him," his aunt, Juana Melendez said between sobs from the front yard of Parilla's family home on the 11000 block of Ekker Road in Gibsonton. "He was not like that. He was a good guy."...