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Hillsborough schools go to high court

The Hillsborough County School Board has told the U.S. Supreme Court it has done all it can to free the schools of racial discrimination.

The district asked the nation's highest court Friday not to take up Hillsborough's 43-year-old desegregation case, which was appealed last month by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. If the court refuses to hear the case, it will bring an end to one of the longest court cases in Florida history.

The school district filed a 30-page response that refutes the Defense Fund's claims, said school attorney Tom Gonzalez.

On June 14, the Legal Defense Fund appealed an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that said the district was free of segregation. The Defense Fund represents the original black families who filed a suit in 1958 against the district after they were denied an equal education because of skin color.

The Defense Fund's appeal argued that the March 16 decision, which ordered the closing of the desegregation case, was faulty.

Officials expect the Supreme Court to decide sometime this fall whether to take up the Hillsborough case. At least four of the justices must vote to hear the case.

Police dismiss profiling accusation

ST. PETERSBURG _ The St. Petersburg Police Department has concluded that patrol Officer Brandon Stout did not use racial profiling tactics during a traffic stop involving a local lawyer. Investigators labeled the charges of improper procedure and discourtesy "unfounded."

Grady Irvin, who is black, filed a complaint against Stout after Irvin was stopped for failing to signal before making a right turn onto Sixth Avenue S from Fourth Street S at 11:15 p.m. May 28. Irvin was driving in the lane that says right turn only and had said that he was somewhat certain he had his signal on.

According to the police report, Stout wrote 10 tickets at the intersection for not signaling while turning from May 27 to June 1. Irvin was the only black motorist ticketed.

Golfer rescues boy in drainage ditch

PINELLAS PARK _ A passing golfer who saw 7-year-old Jonathan P. Richmond's flailing in a drainage ditch Monday pulled the boy to safety and gave him CPR while awaiting emergency crews.

Jonathan had been playing with his older brother, trying to pull a bicycle from the water at Bayou Club Estates, when he slipped into water over his head.

The golfer who rescued Jonathan asked to remain anonymous.

Jonathan's parents, William and Ingrid Richmond, arrived at the canal in the 9000 block of Silverthorn Road and followed as Jonathan was taken in an ambulance to Bayfront Medical Center. He was breathing and had all of his faculties when he was taken from the scene, Pinellas sheriff's Deputy Paul Pantell said.

William Richmond said his son was breathing and not in serious condition.

State hands Hillsborough schools a bill

TAMPA _ The state wants Hillsborough County schools to repay about $615,000 for inaccurately reporting the number of non-certified teachers and students in special programs.

The findings by the Auditor General come about a month after the state decided to withhold about $1.2-million in federal dollars from the district because of counting errors in school cafeterias.

The repayment amount in the audit will be subtracted from this year's district budget of $1.89-billion, said Mike Bookman, assistant superintendent for business. He described it as a hit during tough financial times.

The audit, which is done at all school districts every three years, is important because it is directly tied to the student-based formula the state uses to determine funding. The state funds about 51 percent of district budgets.

Man found hanging is identified

A man found hanging from a tree in downtown St. Petersburg on Friday night was identified as Victor Lamar Owens, 32, of St. Petersburg. The death was ruled a suicide.

Owens was an Army veteran who was a cook at the Fourth Street Shrimp Store restaurant. He was a member of New Life Fellowship Church in St. Petersburg. He is survived by a wife, two sons, two sisters, his mother, father and stepfather.

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