Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Lisa Gartner

Lisa Gartner

Lisa Gartner is a writer on the enterprise team at the Tampa Bay Times. In 2016, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for "Failure Factories," a series chronicling how a local school system turned five once-decent neighborhood schools into the worst in the state for black children. The series also won Gartner the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, the George Polk Award for Education Reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Medal, among other honors. Gartner, who joined the Times in 2013, has also been recognized at the national and state levels for her feature writing, beat coverage and breaking news reporting. She grew up in Wellington, Fla., and attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. After graduating in 2010, she joined The Washington Examiner to report on education in the D.C. metro area. At the Times, Gartner covered Pinellas County Schools and higher education before joining the enterprise team in 2016. She lives in St. Petersburg, and is always looking for a good story to tell.

Melissa Falkowski returns to her classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Thursday, eight days after 17 people were killed at the school. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times]

She’s taught at the Parkland high school for 14 years. Can she go back?

PARKLAND — She was afraid of what it would feel like, but she needed to know, so Melissa Falkowski pulled into the faculty parking lot. She took a deep breath in through her nose and climbed out of her car. She was back, in front of Marjory Stoneman...
Updated: 2 months ago
Erin Jackson competes in the women's 500 meters during the U.S. Olympic long track speedskating trials in January. [AP Photo/John Locher]

From Ocala to the Olympics: Five things to know about Florida’s newest speedskater

If there’s anyone among us who hasn’t dreamed of taking up a sport and, within months, becoming a champion, then please stand up and see yourself out, while the rest of us try not to be too jealous of Erin Jackson.Because that’s exactly what...
Updated: 2 months ago
Adam Sheppard, a social worker with Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services, helps a teen as part of a new program to try to keep juveniles from reoffending. Among other things, he helps the teen with his court appearances as well as a plan for getting his GED. He also helped the boy and his grandmother find housing.   DIRK SHADD   |   Times

Hot Wheels: Trying to turn around juvenile car thieves, one case at a time

LARGOThey knew something had gone wrong, but they weren’t sure what, climbing back into the car outside the courthouse. The kid had his phone pressed to his ear; he was trying to reach his probation officer. It rang and rang but she didn’t pick...
Updated: 4 months ago
Maletsis Viera and her 12-year-old daughter, Lionetsis, have been living in a Clearwater hotel since mid-November. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times

After evacuating Puerto Rico, family searches for normalcy in Christmastime

CLEARWATER — The tree in the hotel lobby was plastic, skinny and swaddled in shoeboxes, empty but gift-wrapped, and blotted with bows. For Gael Rodriguez, it was love at first sight. Every time the 9-month-old’s mother carried him outside, he smiled...
Updated: 4 months ago
The state has decided to change the way it evaluates which juvenile offenders remain in custody when they steal car.    DIRK SHADD   |   Times

New tracking system could help put a dent in juvenile car theft epidemic

LAKE MARY — Hundreds more juveniles who steal cars each year could be kept off the streets under a new tool approved by a Department of Juvenile Justice committee Tuesday, a move that could put a dent in a dangerous local car theft...
Updated: 4 months ago
DIRK SHADD   |   Times  Rep. Wengay Newton (left), D-St. Petersburg, filed House Bill 927 this week, which would make it a second-degree misdemeanor to leave your car unattended without first stopping the engine, removing the key from the ignition, and locking the door.

Bill would punish car theft victims

Left your car running, and a teen stole it?Some state lawmakers think you should be criminally charged for that.Rep. Wengay Newton, D-St. Petersburg, this week filed House Bill 927, which would make it a second-degree...
Updated: 5 months ago
Emergency personnel work to clear the scene of fatal high-speed crash on Aug. 6 in Palm Harbor. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the three boys who died in the crash had

DJJ proposes stronger consequences for teens who steal cars

Florida’s juvenile justice department will propose sweeping changes Monday that would make young auto thieves more likely to face consequences.This overhaul of the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument — the first time the tool has been modified...
Updated: 5 months ago
Three teens died in a fiery stolen SUV crash on Tampa Road in Palm Harbor in August. Pinellas County is in the midst of a juvenile auto theft epidemic. [LUIS SANTANA |  Times]

National study to focus on juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas

A national think-tank has begun a sprawling study into Pinellas County’s juvenile auto theft epidemic, hoping to stop the problem before more teens die in stolen cars.The $85,000 research project, expected to culminate in policy recommendations...
Updated: 5 months ago
Lori Rosso, Ybor City
On loud nights Lori Rosso's whole apartment shakes and she keeps an odd sleep schedule to accommodate this. She goes to bed by 9, wakes up around 11:30, stays up until 3 or so, and then goes back to sleep until morning. While she's awake in the middle of the night, her table shakes and the walls reverberate. She calls these

She lives above the Ritz but is still searching for her place

YBOR CITY — The bouncer was already at the door, checking IDs, when Lori Rosso came home from work on a recent Friday. The sidewalk outside her building is usually lined with cross-legged adolescents waiting for a show to start at the Ritz Ybor; Lori...
Updated: 5 months ago