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Education Secretary Arne Duncan to visit Campbell Park after Failure Factories investigation

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to visit Campbell Park Elementary Friday afternoon for a private gathering with parents, students and community members.

Duncan will take questions from the media afterward.

Campbell Park is one of five neighborhood schools at the heart of the Tampa Bay Times investigation, Failure Factories, which showed how the Pinellas County School District abandoned integration efforts in 2007 and then failed to follow through with promised resources. Today, the five schools — which also include Melrose, Maximo, Fairmount Park, and Lakewood — are the county's most segregated and are failing at rates far worse than almost any other schools in Florida. Dozens of schools with similar demographics outperform them.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat whose district includes part of southern Pinellas County, asked Duncan in August to investigate the "crisis" in south St. Petersburg, saying the stories raised serious questions about what's happening in the predominantly black schools.

In a letter released last month, federal officials said they take the allegations "very seriously," and that the Florida Department of Education will take the lead in reviewing how district officials spent federal dollars meant for poor children and whether all students get good teachers.

Duncan, who is stepping down later this year, will visit Campbell Park with his successor, John King. They plan to stop in Miami on Friday morning.

Contact Cara Fitzpatrick at cfitzpatrick@tampabay.com.

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