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Colleen Wright, Times Staff Writer

Colleen Wright

Colleen Wright covers Pinellas County Schools since joining the Times in 2015. Florida born and bred, she was raised in Miami and graduated from the University of Florida.

Phone: (727) 893-8643

E-mail: cwright@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Colleen_Wright

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  1. NAACP Legal Defense Fund responds to Campbell Park Elementary principal's email

    Blog

    The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which has long represented plaintiffs in a 50-year-old federal desegregation case against the Pinellas County school district for shortchanging black students, issued a statement Thursday in response to an email that instructed school staff to keep white students together in class in a predominantly black school.

    The email, sent April 18 by Campbell Park Elementary principal Christine Hoffman, was written with no context or explanation. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits schools from segregating students “on the basis of race, color, or national origin in making classroom assignments.”...

  2. 'Marzano lite' teacher evaluation model may be coming to Pinellas school district

    Blog

    Pinellas County school district teachers have long bemoaned Marzano, which is widely deemed a complicated and confusing teacher evaluation model. District leaders now say they may have found a remedy.

    Deputy superintendent Bill Corbett told the Pinellas County School Board at a recent board workshop that the district is considering implementing a “focused Marzano model."

    Instead of using about 60 indicators to sum up an educator's observation score (worth 57 percent -- the largest chunk -- of the total evaluation), the new model would streamline the observation process down to 23 indicators. ...

  3. A cruise with Pitbull? Family getaway a surprisingly good time

    Travel

    My mom pitched the weekend getaway: a three-night cruise out of Miami with Pitbull.

    Yes, Pitbull, the Miami rapper known for his signature "Dale!" catchphrase. He entered my world when pool parties gave way to middle school dances. His songs with titles I could never print trigger repressed memories of preteens grinding and twerking. I only imagined it would be worse in the middle of the Caribbean with adults on a boat stocked with endless booze....

    The Wright family set sail with Pitbull aboard the Norwegian Pearl. They’re cruise veterans.
  4. Amid investigation, Pinellas officials bemoan racially charged incident at Campbell Park Elementary

    K12

    LARGO — In his first public comments on the issue, Pinellas County schools superintendent Mike Grego spoke out at Tuesday night's School Board meeting about the decision to transfer former Campbell Park Elementary principal Christine Hoffman after an email in which she made a racially insensitive directive to her staff.

    Grego confirmed that Hoffman is under investigation by the district's Office of Professional Standards. Hoffman on Monday requested a transfer to school district headquarters until the investigation is complete. In an email sent April 18, she told her staff to cluster white students together as the predominantly black school took on the task of setting classroom rosters for next year....

    During a protest this week, Velma Newmon of St. Petersburg, left, shows Dianna Doyle, 18, and Jo Davis, 61, a copy of a controversial email written by former Campbell Park Elementary principal Christine Hoffman. The Pinellas County school district has transferred Hoffman to another position while it investigates her actions. District officials lamented the incident Tuesday but praised the administration’s decisive action. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. U.S. News and World report ranks Tampa Bay high schools

    Blog

    Tampa Bay high schools didn't quite earn top honors in U.S. News & World Report's Best High Schools rankings, but Hillsborough County at least has bragging rights for some of the best schools in the area according to the report's annual rankings.

    Released Tuesday, the rankings show Plant High came in No. 22 among the top schools in Florida. The school, which has a 96 percent graduation rate and a college readiness score of 69, ranked 228th nationally....

    U.S. News and World Report ranked Hillsborough's Plant High the 22nd best high school in Florida. The school, which has a 96 percent graduation rate and a college readiness score of 69, ranked 228th nationally.
  6. Campbell Park principal will leave campus

    Blog

    Christine Hoffman, the embattled principal of Campbell Park Elementary will leave campus while an "administrative review" is conducted, district officials said Monday.

    Hoffman created an uproar last week when she sent an email to her school staff about classroom rosters for the coming year and said "white students should be in the same class" with no explanation or context. She later sent out a second email to staff apologizing for "poor judgment," and a letter went home to parents Friday with an invitation to meet with parents Monday morning and afternoon....

    Christine Hoffman, principal of Campbell Park Elementary school in south St. Petersburg, has been called on to resign for sending an email to staff instructing classroom teachers that "white students should be in the same class."
  7. Campbell Park principal's email to staff: 'White students should be in same class'

    Education

    ST. PETERSBURG — Principal Christine Hoffman emailed her staff at Campbell Park Elementary a detailed set of instructions on what classroom rosters should look like in the coming school year.

    Among her requirements: students with a mix of reading levels, an equal number of boys and girls, no more than two students who frequently misbehave per class and this: "white students should be in the same class."...

    Christine Hoffman said her guideline was “racially insensitive.”
  8. White students at Campbell Park Elementary 'should be in the same class,' principal emails staff

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG - Principal Christine Hoffman emailed her staff at Campbell Park Elementary a detailed set of instructions on what classroom rosters should look like in the coming school year.

    Among her requirements: students with a mix of reading levels, an equal number of boys and girls, no more than two students who frequently misbehave per class and this: “white students should be in the same class.”...

    Campbell Park Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
  9. Tarpon Spring's High band gets new home in $12.2 million renovation

    K12

    TARPON SPRINGS — One of the most renowned high school music programs in the country practices in a maze of cramped classrooms built in the 1960s.

    Most of the 400 students in Tarpon Springs High's Leadership Conservatory for the Arts magnet are packed into five classes held simultaneously in separate rooms. Sometimes the building's narrow hallways double as rehearsal and storage space....

    An enclosed lobby serving the performance space and gym at Tarpon Springs High is one of the features of a $12.2 million upgrade that will begin this summer.
  10. Man who attacks Tampa police officer gets clotheslined by taxi driver as bystanders rush to help

    Crime

    TAMPA — Ray Freeman watched the police officer get knocked down through his cab's windshield, just a few feet away. Then he said he saw the man who attacked the officer reach for his holster.

    "I was afraid he was going to take the officer's gun and kill him," said Freeman, 56, of Tampa.

    The cabbie said he got out of his taxi, rushed over, stuck out his arm and clotheslined the man, knocking him onto N Himes Avenue across from Raymond James Stadium. So began a wild melee in the middle of Wednesday afternoon traffic as bystanders wrestled the officer's attacker to the ground and helped subdue him, according to Tampa police....

  11. District staff, principal changes on Pinellas School Board's agenda

    Blog

    The Pinellas County School Board's Tuesday meeting agenda is rife with promotions and shake-ups in district and school-level staff pending School Board approval.

    - Kevin Hendrick, principal of Northeast High, has been promoted to associate superintendent of teaching and learning services effective July 1 following the retirement of Pam Moore.

    - Al Bennett, principal of St. Petersburg High, will become the district's next director of athletics, pre-K-12 physical education, health education programs and school wellness on June 30 following the retirement of Nickolas R. Grasso....

    Claudius B. Effiom, principal of Meadowlawn Middle, will serve as the assistant administrator at Pinellas Technical College in Clearwater. The change is effective July 1.
  12. Pinellas unveils plans for a new middle school in St. Petersburg

    K12

    LARGO — Pinellas County school officials have unveiled plans for a new St. Petersburg middle school that would open in August 2021 with involvement from the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.

    The joint facility would be located on the now-vacant site of the former Riviera Middle School, which the district closed in 2008 and later razed. The new school would cost the school district $15 million to $17 million and would have 40 classrooms with room for up to 800 students. Shared facilities between the school and the YMCA could include a gymnasium, auditorium and a pool....

    Pinellas County school officials have announced plans for a new school at a the former site of Riviera Middle School, seen here in 2009 when it was being razed. The school would be for grades 6-8 and contain a YMCA facility. [Times files]
  13. Oak Grove Middle school resource officer named Pinellas SRO of the year

    Blog

    Officer Lenshawn Price, a school resource officer at Oak Grove Middle, was named Monday as the School Resource Officer of the Year for Pinellas County Schools.

    Price, 44, was surprised with the award at Oak Grove with a visit from Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter and Pinellas County Schools Police Chief Rick Stelljes. Price has worked for the Clearwater Police Department for 17 years, with the last nine years spent at Oak Grove....

    Oak Grove Middle school resource officer Lenshawn Price poses with Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter, right, and Pinellas County Schools Police Chief Rick Stelljes on Monday after Price was named School Resource Officer of the Year for Pinellas County Schools. Price, 44, has worked for the Clearwater Police Department for 17 years, the last nine spent as Oak Grove's SRO.
  14. Transformation Zone schools catching up to High Point Elementary's English language learners on latest FSA-predictive tests

    Blog

    This week the Times published a story about beating the odds at High Point Elementary.

    The Clearwater school's roughly 250 English language learners are faring better than other struggling Pinellas schools on tests designed to be predictors for the Florida Standards Assessments. High Point's ELL students in grades 3, 4 and 5 outperformed other schools on reading tests and kept pace on math tests. High Point's younger grades struggled to be as competitive....

    A fourth-grade student at High Point Elementary updates a board that shows the progress of English language learners. On many measures in early tests, the school's English language learners in third, fourth and fifth grades are outperforming their peers in other struggling schools who have spoken English their whole lives. The staff at High Point is hoping their students' performance on the early tests translates to success on state assessments this spring.
  15. Newpoint sued for not paying rent on Windsor Prep property

    Blog

    Newpoint Education Partners, the charter school management company that once operated five schools in Pinellas County, has been sued for not paying rent on the former Windsor Preparatory Academy property. 

    A lawsuit filed last week in Pinellas County Circuit Court alleges Newpoint has failed to pay rent since July 2016. The lawsuit does not specify how much money is owed, but financial statements from March 2016 show that the school paid $64,885 that month....