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SWFL superintendents take on state education

School districts across the state received scores Wednesday for the controversial Florida standards assessment test. 

Superintendents in Lee, Charlotte, and Collier counties told state education leaders they have lost faith in the state testing system.

Dr. Greg Adkins has been acting superintendent for two weeks and on Wednesday, he took a big stance against state education leaders.

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One of the demands is to suspend high-stakes accountability for both teachers and students.

NBC2 found parents who are concerned the tests are jeopardizing their children’s future.

Some of the FSA testing results released Wednesday have parents expressing a lot of their concerns about state testing in schools.

“It’s one of those things that has limited the teachers has limited funding and has put an unfair advantage on different schools,” said Melissa Panneton, a Lee County parent.

NBC2 spoke with parents said that effect trickles down to children in the district who took the FSA for the first time in 2015.

“It teaches kids to be drones almost, and basically run with a system, and eat a system rather than learning,” said John French, a Lee County parent.

NBC2 also spoke with superintendents from both Lee and Collier Counties Wednesday, who said the results released don’t reflect individual learning gains.

“You need to have individuality and room for each student to reach their potential and their own individual knowledge,” said Panneton.

The parents also said students aren’t the only ones on potentially thin ice with these results, as accountability also affects teachers.

“It’s ridiculous to expect the teacher raises to be based on these types of things. I think you have a lot of great teachers out there. I actually worked in the school system for just a year as a speech therapist, and I saw how hard the teachers work,” said Cherie French, a Lee County Parent.

The results released Wednesday were only on a district level. Individual student results won’t be available until December.

In Lee County, elementary math and English and language arts scores were on par with state averages.

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More mosquitoes in your area? Here’s why

An NBC2 viewer who told us he has been experiencing high levels of mosquitoes in his Lehigh Acres neighborhood contacted us to find out why.

“I’d like to get some answers as to why there’s so many mosquitoes, and why ya know it’s not pleasant during the summer to live here,” said Matt Hicks of Lehigh.

NBC2 spoke with Lee County Mosquito Control to get the answer.

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Hicks grew up in Southwest Florida and knows all about our mosquito seasons, but he said it appears to be worse than ever.

“They’re just horrendous. I mean you go outside and even to go down to the end of the driveway, and get the trash cans, and you can’t come up without having a ton of mosquitoes around you,” said Hicks.

Hicks said he has seen little done about it.

“You used to see trucks going down the road with foggers. You don’t see those anymore,” said Hicks.

According to the Lee County Mosquito Control District, widespread heavy rain this season across Southwest Florida is contributing to the problem.

The District also said they only spray for mosquitoes at night, and only when its not raining.

More rain means less spraying and therefore a lot more mosquitoes.

The District also told NBC2 they have moved toward using planes to spray and will only use trucks if there is a specific area being affected.

Lehigh Acres is the most sprayed area of Lee County, but as a dog owner, that doesn’t make Hicks feel much better.

“I’m worried about the pets too because mosquitoes carry heartworms and stuff,” said Hicks.

The county checks mosquito levels weekly and are only allowed to spray once they can determine an area is experiencing high levels of the pesky bugs.

County leaders tell NBC2 they are not seeing an unusual amount of mosquitoes. 

If you ever feel like your neighborhood is swarming with the bugs, you can always call mosquito control to report it.

It can take the county up to eight days to spray the entire county.

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Crash at intersection of Colonial and Shoemaker Blvds

Lee County EMS responded to a crash late Wednesday night at the intersection of Colonial Blvd and Veronica S Shoemaker Blvd in Fort Myers.

One person was reported with injuries.

Westbound Colonial was being diverted north on Shoemaker around the intersection.

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Lee County school buses continue to run red lights

Four Lee County school buses with students onboard have been caught on camera running the red light on Six Mile Cypress onto Michael G. Rippe Parkway with no consequences in sight.

Tuesday, the school district told ABC7 this is unacceptable, yet bus drivers continue to illegally blast through the red light.

“That’s a big problem, I mean that’s our children’s lives they have on their hands,” said Lorraine Thomas, grandmother to two children that ride the bus.

“They should be fired there’s not even a question about it,” said Thomas.

A feeling many parents have after watching these buses blantly turn left on red at the intersection.

“My daughter rides the school bus and [this] is kind of unsettling,” said Amber Anderson, a parent of Fort Myers

ABC7 took videos of the first three incidents to the district on Tuesday, but then we watched as another one went through the light one day after our story aired. 

District officials told ABC7 Wednesday that no disciplinary action has been taken. 

“If you run a red light, you get a ticket, and if you have tickets, you’re not supposed to be a school bus driver,” said Anderson.

Penny Antly agrees it’s serious, but hopes the district looks at it case by case.

She has a commercial driver’s license and said drivers are taught to anticipate the light, but sometimes it’s hard to do.

“Sometimes when you’re driving a big vehicle, you could be past the ‘no return’ mark because you’re told not to make a short stop,” said Antly.

Parents think drivers need to be more vigilant, so children’s lives aren’t put in danger.

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Proposed Fla. bill to require 6 weeks paid family care leave

Florida Senator Dwight Bullard proposed a bill that, if passed, will require employers to allow six weeks of paid leave for workers after children are born or adopted.

“I totally agree with it,” said Shellie Desmaret.

“I think the bill is long and coming in the state of Florida,” said Paul McRae, who supports the bill.

“I think they should pass that,” said Pamela Murch, a mother of three.

Murch said she took off work for six weeks after each of her children were born, but never received a paycheck.

“We’re way behind, in a lot of countries they pay women for having a child, and they pay them longer than the six weeks. So it would be nice to see a change over here,” said Murch.

According to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers are required to hold an employee’s job for 12 weeks while that employee is on medical leave.

“It’s hard to take off the six weeks, not be paid for it, especially when you really need it, and you’re the only income. A lot of women go back to work after three or four weeks because they can’t afford to stay home,” said Murch.

If the bill passes, some say it could benefit the local economy.

“It would start to attract more people here as far as work,” said McRae.

According to FMLA, a company does not have to pay your during medical leave, but some do.

“I think it’s kind of a win, win. If you get a little, you’re going to get a lot back from your employee,” said McRae.

The proposed bill that states the need for paid family care leave has increased as both parents commonly work, and the number of single parents has increased.

“This is something that should’ve taken place along time ago,” said Desmaret.

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Lee County school buses continue to run red lights

Four Lee County school buses with students onboard have been caught on camera running the red light on Six Mile Cypress onto Michael G. Rippe Parkway with no consequences in sight.

Tuesday, the school district told NBC2 this is unacceptable, yet bus drivers continue to illegally blast through the red light.

– Using our app? WATCH VIDEO HERE

“That’s a big problem, I mean that’s our children’s lives they have on their hands,” said Lorraine Thomas, grandmother to two children that ride the bus.

“They should be fired there’s not even a question about it,” said Thomas.

A feeling many parents have after watching these buses blantly turn left on red at the intersection.

“My daughter rides the school bus and [this] is kind of unsettling,” said Amber Anderson, a parent of Fort Myers

NBC2 took videos of the first three incidents to the district on Tuesday, but then we watched as another one went through the light one day after our story aired. 

District officials told NBC2 Wednesday that no disciplinary action has been taken. 

“If you run a red light, you get a ticket, and if you have tickets, you’re not supposed to be a school bus driver,” said Anderson.

Penny Antly agrees it’s serious, but hopes the district looks at it case by case.

She has a commercial driver’s license and said drivers are taught to anticipate the light, but sometimes it’s hard to do.

“Sometimes when you’re driving a big vehicle, you could be past the ‘no return’ mark because you’re told not to make a short stop,” said Antly.

Parents think drivers need to be more vigilant, so children’s lives aren’t put in danger.

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Videos lead to removal of dogs from Cape Coral home

Authorities took three dogs from a Cape Coral home on Wednesday in connection with a series of 13 online videos showing a teen abusing two of the dogs.

Community members and animal advocates have expressed shock over the footage, and the teen has been the target of threats.

The teen’s parents declined to comment.

Lee County Domestic Animal Services learned of the videos from a concerned citizen, and the Cape Coral Police Department removed the three Golden Labrador retriever-mixed dogs after receiving numerous tips.

“It makes me hurt for animals that are in situations like that,” said Mindy Neleigh.

The videos show two of the dogs being punched with closed fists, slapped with an open hand and hit in the head with a basketball.

In one, the teen says, “I could easily kill her right now. You can’t stop me.”

The videos were posted to Vine, a sharing service on which users can post six-second clips.

Representatives did not respond to requests for comment about the videos and whether the teen’s account would be suspended.

A volunteer coordinator from the Gulf Coast Humane Society said the dogs could still thrive if placed into the proper environment.

“With the right kind of patience, the right kind of positive reinforcement training, the right kind of care, I think everything has a chance to flourish,” said Kelly Legarreta.

Domestic Animal Services representatives said, because of the ongoing police investigation, they were unsure when the dogs would be available for adoption.

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Hurricane Joaquin impacting Bermuda

Hurricane Joaquin is moving just West of Bermuda, but still delivering direct impacts as a Category 2 storm.

Joaquin has winds of 100 mph. The storm is moving to North-Northeast at 14 mph with a minimum pressure of 958 mb.

While the center of Joaquin is just 95 miles West of Bermuda. Wind speeds of 75 mph have been recorded on the island, with gusts near 100 mph.

Joaquin earlier was the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic this year.. Storm that achieve Category 3 status or greater are consider major hurricanes.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect for Bermuda. Joaquin will move just West and North of the island nation Sunday Night into early Monday morning.
Joaquin will slowly weaken through the work week and it continues to churn to the north and east into the northern Atlantic.

Joaquin is the 10th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The storm was upgraded from Tropical Depression 11 last Monday. It also the strongest storm since Hurricane Gonzalo, which also struck Bermuda, last year.

You can track Joaquin anytime with the ABC7 Hurricane Tracker: http://www.abc-7.com/category/265305/interactive-hurricane-tracker

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Woman hospitalized after Lehigh Acres home invasion

A 35-year-old woman was hospitalized after an armed home invasion Wednesday morning in the 5000 block of Centennial Boulevard in Lehigh Acres, the victim’s daughter told ABC7.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded, and an LCSO helicopter was seen in the vicinity. Tortuga Preserve Elementary School on Gunnery Road was briefly locked down after the incident, too.

The victim’s daughter said she got a call from her mother before 10 a.m. saying several men — at least one of whom had a gun — entered and trashed the residence looking for guns and drugs.

The victim, alone in the house at the time of the break-in, told her daughter that she heard one of the men say her youngest son’s name. The teen boy also lives in the home, but was at school.

“She told me not to come, but it’s my mom and I know she was here by herself,” the daughter said. “I came as quick as possible.”

A dark gray 2015 Kia Optima was stolen, she said.

“It was really shocking,” the daughter said. “We’ve been living here for eight years, so it was a shock to me, but they’re going to get caught. I want her out of here. I don’t care if I have to help her get out, but she’s getting out of here. This is ridiculous.

The victim went to Lehigh Regional Medical Center, but her daughter does not believe her physical injuries are serious.

Neighbors, though, were worried after learning what happened, and the incident reminded them of a homicide — still unsolved — that occurred nearby in February.

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Football anniversary marks trying year for Scholtz family

A high school football player with dreams of being a police officer has spent the last year only being able to see out of one eye.

But that’s just one of the weights resting on the Scholtz family in Golden Gate Estates.  

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Last August, Spencer Scholtz was playing in a football game when another player accidentally jammed his fingers through Scholtz’s helmet and into his eye. Scholtz said he initially had trouble with depth perception and jokingly said that parking has also been tough. What isn’t funny, though, are the headaches he has to manage. Now a senior, he’s sitting this football season out, only watching from the stands.

“Every time I go to one of their games I miss the lights and the band and everything,” he said.

All along his family has been dealing with a lot more, starting in 2006.

“We lost our daughter to a drowning and on June 9 we lost our son to a moped accident,” said Spencer’s mother, Mary, holding back tears.

“They both died on the same day, four years apart at the exact same time,” she said.

Just shy of a year after Spencer’s vision loss, his older brother, Tyler, was involved in a bad car accident.

“It flipped and he was ejected onto his head and medflighted to the trauma unit in Fort Myers,” she said.

That happened in June, leaving Tyler with a lot of broken bones and pain, and his mother with another emotional hurdle.

“I don’t know how much more I can take,” she said.

Spencer is making the most of his future and is excited for college next year. He’s hoping to get into Florida SouthWestern State. For now, he tries to deal with the day to day with humor.

“If I hit someone in the hallway at school I’ll just be like, ‘Oh sorry, I couldn’t see you,’ or something like that,” he said.

But the high school senior is dealing with a lot more underneath his sunny exterior.

“I just don’t want my parents to feel like, even worse than they do when they see me down or feeling sad,” he said.

He’s a huge advocate for protective eye wear on the football field and says he will continue to be until more students start wearing it.

The family is still raising money to fund its cause.