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Schools plan class size challenge

TALLAHASSEE — Some Florida school boards are planning a lawsuit to challenge penalties that could reach $351 million statewide if they fail to meet class size limits this fall.

Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, on Monday said he expected the case to be filed in Tallahassee by early September.

The boards say the penalties would violate a constitutional requirement for a uniform school system because fine money would be given to other districts that are in compliance. Most, though, are expected to violate a constitutional amendment adopted in 2002.

Blanton said the issue would disappear if voters in November pass another amendment to loosen the limits.

Justices to decide redistricting cases

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court will take up cases challenging three redistricting amendments slated for the Nov. 2 ballot.

The justices Monday halted trial court proceedings while they consider arguments to either dismiss a challenge to a pair of citizen initiatives or decide it themselves.

The initiatives, Amendments 5 and 6, are aimed at curtailing gerrymandering that benefits incumbents and political parties in legislative and congressional redistricting.

An appeal court last week agreed to send the justices another case involving Amendment 7 that counteracts the initiatives.

The Legislature is appealing a judge’s decision to remove it from the ballot saying it’s being confusing and misleading.

Foam boat Cuban migrant will be sent to Guantanamo

MIAMI — The Cuban migrant found trying to reach the U.S. on a tiny, plastic foam boat will be sent to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

The Cost Guard confirmed Monday that immigration officers made the decision after interviewing the unidentified migrant.

The U.S. Coast Guard picked up the castaway on July 13 about 50 miles south of Marathon in the Florida Keys. He told officials he had left Havana on June 20.

Family suing after death of prison guard

DAYTONA BEACH — The family of a Daytona Beach corrections officer who was fatally stabbed by an inmate has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections saying lax security was to blame.

Enoch Hall was convicted of stabbing Donna Fitzgerald 22 times with sheet metal in 2008. A judge sentenced him to death.

Fitzgerald was alone while supervising Hall and others in an inmate work program. An investigation determined Hall may not have been eligible for the program and 50-year-old Fitzgerald should’ve had a radio or body alarm to summon help.

The prison has since hired a new warden.

Military pilot survives Ocala plane crash

OCALA — A military pilot is recovering in Florida after his plane went down in the Ocala National Forest north of Orlando.

The 29-year-old pilot was taken by helicopter to Shands Hospital in Gainesville as a precaution Sunday night. He was alert and conscious when he was found. It was not immediately known what kind of plane he was flying or what caused it to go down.

Asst. U.S. Attorney’s mailbox set on fire

PALM BEACH GARDENS — Authorities are investigating after a firework sparked a blaze in the mailbox of an assistant U.S. attorney.

Carlos Baixauli, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said there is no indication the South Florida attorney was targeted and the fire appears to be malicious mischief. The FBI is also investigating because of her high-profile position.

Stray bullets hit homes and cars, strike girl

LAKELAND — An 11-year-old was struck in the arm by a stray bullet after a gunfight near central Florida.

Lakeland Police say two groups were fighting Sunday night when someone fired multiple shots at a vehicle.

At least two apartments and several unoccupied cars in the area were also hit by stray bullets. One went through the window of Alexis Lewis’ home. Her injuries are not life threatening.

Truck driver runs over 4-year-old boy on beach

NEW SMRYNA — A child has died after a pickup truck ran over him while he played on a central Florida beach.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol says the driver, Donovan Sias, was not speeding and could not see 4-year-old Aiden Patrick.

Patrick ran toward the water and into the path of the truck in New Smyrna on Sunday.

— Herald wire services

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