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Central Florida high school grades released

<p> The number of top rated high schools in Florida is dropping, according to new data released Thursday.</p><p> [READ: <a href="/blob/view/-/30296338/data/1/-/xxcnj3/-/School-grades.xls" target="_blank">Full school grades, county by county </a>]</p><p> Grades released by the Florida Department of Education showed that the number of A-graded schools dropped from 49 percent last year to 36 percent this year.</p><p> Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said a key reason for the drop in A-rated schools was that the grading formula was changed to make it more difficult to earn a top grade.</p><p> DOE officials say six high schools in the Central Florida area increased a grade letter. In Brevard, Seminole and Lake counties, Eau Gallie High School, Winter Springs High School and Lake Minneola High School increased their grades from a B to an A.</p><p> In Orange County, three schools improved one letter grade: Dr. Phillips High School and University High School went from a B to an A, and Colonial High School improved from a C to a B.</p><p> In Volusia County, six of the 10 county schools received B grades and four received C grades. According to Volusia County Schools, three schools would have received an A rating but were penalized due to not testing the required 95 percent of students or not graduating enough number of at-risk students.</p><p> Twenty-eight Central Florida schools went down a grade, according to the report.</p><p> Palm Bay Magnet Senior High School in Brevard County, Jones High School in Orange County and Gateway High School in Osceola County would have dropped two grades if not for the state rule that prevents a school from decreasing more than one letter grade.</p><p> The department tried to downplay the drop in the number of A-rated schools in its official release. Instead, the department highlighted that the state's overall high school graduation rate edged up slightly this year.</p><p> In Central Florida, Sumter County's graduation rate improved to 83.4 percent, an increase of nearly 5 percentage points over the last year.</p><p> Statewide, graduation rates increased to  an 11-year high of 76.1 percent, an increase of 0.5 percent over last year and a rise of nearly 17 percentage points since 2003-04, according to the DOE.</p><p> Watch Local 6 News and stay with for more on this story.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:53:20 GMT

Florida woman slapped grandma for denying Facebook friend request, cops say

<p> A Pinellas County woman was arrested after deputies say she slapped her grandma in the face because she wouldn't be her Facebook friend.</p><p> Rachel Hayes, 27, has been charged with aggravated battery on an elderly person in the Wednesday incident.</p><p> According to the report, Hayes was at her 72-year-old grandmother's house when they got into an argument because the victim wouldn't accept Hayes' Facebook friend request.</p><p> In the midst of the argument, Hayes slapped the victim multiple times on the side of her face, deputies said.</p><p> Hayes was arrested Thursday morning and booked into jail on no bond.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:53:00 GMT

Man, 69, killed in head-on crash in Seminole County

<p> A 69-year-old Sanford man was killed and a 65-year-old Deltona woman was seriously injured Wednesday night in a head-on crash in Seminole County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.</p><p> The FHP said Duglis Daw died in the crash, which occurred around 7 p.m. on State Road 46 near Ross Lake Lane.</p><p> According to troopers, Daw was driving a four-door Chevrolet west on S.R. 46 when he veered into the eastbound lanes and struck the front of a four-door Toyota driven by Mary Strates, who was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital.</p><p> The crash remains under investigation.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:46:02 GMT

'Burglar boxes' return to Orlando for holidays

<p> "Burglar boxes" are back by popular demand.</p><p> The Orange County Sheriff's Office has partnered with Orlando Recycling and Waste Management to have "cardboard-only" Dumpsters placed throughout the county. </p><p> The so-called "burglar boxes" allow residents to discard cardboard boxes, especially for big-ticket items like TVs, computers and gaming consoles, instead of leaving them curbside outside their homes.</p><p> The Sheriff's Office said criminals often target homes by boxes left outside during the holiday season.</p><p> "We want to encourage members of the community to use these 'burglar boxes' as an alternative to leaving their cardboard boxes curbside," the Sheriff's Office said.</p><p> The "burglar boxes" can be found at the following locations:</p><p>Winn Dixie at 5732 N. Hiawassee Road in Orlando <br/>Forest Edge Shopping Center at 5701 Edgewater Drive in Orlando <br/>Waterford Shopping Center (behind the Subway) at 413 N. Alafaya Trail in Orlando <br/>Sector 2 Substation at 11000 Lake Underhill Road in Orlando <br/>Orlo Vista Park at 1 N. Powers Drive in Orlando <br/>Soiree Event Center at 6394 Silver Star Road in Orlando<br/>Dr. Phillips YMCA at 7000 Dr. Phillips Boulevard in Orlando<br/>Goodwill at 7915 S. Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando<br/>Costco at 2101 Waterbridge Boulevard in Orlando<br/></p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:04:52 GMT

Thief takes only Christmas tree from tattoo shop

<p> A burglar is on the loose in Port Orange, wanted for pulling off a bizarre holiday heist.</p><p> Police said out of dozens of Christmas decorations at one local business, the only item that thieves took was a decorative Christmas tree.</p><p> The business, Hold Fast Tattoo, is on Ridgewood Avenue near Dunlawton in Port Orange. The owner of the shop, Chris Norton, decided to decorate for the first time this year and went all out.</p><p> "We were just trying to get in the Christmas spirit around here and them coming along, kind of like the Grinch, just makes it not as fun,” said Norton.</p><p> The shop was closed Sunday. Norton said when they opened back up Monday and went to turn on the Christmas lights and decorations like they do each night, they noticed something was missing.</p><p> “One of the other guys said the tree is gone and we watched the video and realized we had them caught on there,” said Norton.</p><p> Some of the 11 surveillance cameras around the shop captured a man or a woman unplugging and snatching a white metal tree right out of the yard. They did it slowly, in the middle of the day, and took off in an older model Crown Victoria.</p><p> “They drove by a couple minutes earlier and turned around. We rewound to see if they turned back around. They saw it and decided to come back for it,” Norton said.</p><p> Norton said he invested time and effort into helping people who come to his shop and those who drive by it get into the Christmas spirit. He said a lot of the decorations were donated, so now he's on a quest to find the person he calls the Port Orange Grinch.</p><p> “I hope someone recognizes you and you feel humiliated,” Norton said.</p><p> Norton is offering a $200 gift certificate to his shop to anyone who helps turn the thief in.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:33:07 GMT

Deputies: Couple forced teen into prostitution

<p> A Volusia County couple was arrested and charged with drugging and forcing a 15-year-old girl into prostitution.</p><p> Investigators said the girl was being sold to a restaurant owner who witnesses say was looking for young girls.  FBI agents and Volusia County deputies started their investigation into Robert Richards, 60, in June when witnesses say they heard Richards talking about his interest in young girls.</p><p> That led detectives to DeBary, where they say Michael and Cynthia Graves would drug and then sell a 15-year-old girl to Richards for $60 to $80 for sex acts. </p><p> Deputies say Richards was the former owner of Fresh Off the Hook seafood restaurant in DeLand.  Richards faces multiple charges, including battery of a minor.</p><p> Michael Graves was being held on child abuse charges, while Cynthia Graves was facing child abuse and underage prostitution charges.</p><p> Investigators are looking into whether there are any more victims.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:39:53 GMT

Photos: Florida mug shots

<p> Here's a look at some of the individuals who have been arrested recently in the Sunshine State.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:53:49 GMT

What will cost more in 2015

<p> Prepare to pay more for chocolate, coffee, shipping and several other goods and services next year.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:00 GMT

Hackers use malware to control personal computers

<p> Just a few years ago, chances were relatively low that hackers could take control of your personal computer.  For them to do so, you would have likely been tricked into downloading software or opening up a malicious email attachment.</p><p> [WEB EXTRA: <a href="/news/web-extra-how-to-protect-yourself-and-combat-cyber-crimes/30281336" target="_blank">How to protect yourself ]</a></p><p> But now, computers can secretly be infected with malware simply by visiting your favorite websites, according to cybercrime experts.</p><p> "Everybody is out to get you," said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes.  "You open your email, there could be a threat there.  You open your browser, there could be a threat there."</p><p> Kleczynski's company, which provides free and paid anti-malware services, recently opened a Cyber Crime Analysis Center in Clearwater, where engineers are attempting to identify the latest threats to computer security before they strike.</p><p> "We are in the deep, dark parts of the internet watching these guys evolve.  And its just very scary," he said. </p><p> The latest way hackers are gaining access to computers is by hiding malware on mainstream websites such as Yahoo and YouTube, according Kleczynski.</p><p> "Unfortunately, 'safe surfing' no longer applies," said Bruce Harrison, Malwarebytes vice president of research.  "You don't have to click on anything.  You don't have to do anything wrong.  You simply go to the wrong website on the wrong day and you are infected."</p><p> Once a computer is infected, the thief can steal your bank account information, photos, and other private data. </p><p> Hackers can also use your computer to launch cyber attacks on others, making your home computer an accomplice in a crime, according to Kleczynski.</p><p> By secretly seizing control of thousands of computers in what's called a botnet, hackers can remain anonymous while letting innocent computer owners do their dirty work.</p><p> "The vast majority of spam you get does not come from a spammer," said Harrison.  "It comes from a network of botnets sending spam.  So you can't shut the spammer down because there is no spammer.  It's a network of bots."</p><p> A more sinister attack involves holding computer data for ransom.  The thief posts extortion letters on the screen, sometimes claiming to be from the FBI, informing the users that all of their files are now locked.</p><p> "It encrypts all of your files on your hard drive - pictures of your family, your documents, your resume - and holds it for ransom," said Kleczynski.  "It tells you, 'I want $300 to decrypt this.'  And you have no other option but to pay."</p><p> To protect yourself, Klecynski suggests installing anti-malware software, such as the free and paid versions offered by his company and other software developers. </p><p> "We also recommend that you don't open emails if you don't know the sender.  Even if you do and it looks suspicious, always ask to make sure. Don't click on links, don't visit websites you shouldn't be," said Klecynski.  </p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:51:56 GMT

Theater no longer replacing 'The Interview' with 'Team America'

<p> After Sony canceled the release of its comedy "The Interview," one Texas theater wanted to screen "Team America: World Police" instead. </p><p> The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Dallas/Fort Worth was going to offer one free screening of the 2004 comedy instead of "The Interview" on Dec. 27 but it appears those plans have also been scrapped. <br/>On Thursday afternoon, the theater released a statement that it was no longer showing the film: "Due to to circumstances beyond our control, the screening of TEAM AMERICA on December 27th has been canceled as the film has been removed from release. We apologize to anyone who has bought advance tickets and will be providing full refunds today."<br/>Sony announced Wednesday that it was canceling its Christmas Day premiere of "The Interview" after a threat warning moviegoers to avoid theaters where the film would be playing. The comedy, which stars James Franco and Seth Rogen, has sparked controversy because it includes a storyline about a plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. </p><p> The Alamo Drafthouse had planned to screen "The Interview," but "unfortunately these decisions aren't always ours to make," the theater said in a Facebook post. </p><p> The movie that the Alamo Drafthouse wanted to screen instead also happens to be a comedy that involves North Korea. "Team America: World Police," which was written by "South Park's" Trey Parker and Matt Stone, includes a plot that centers on Kim Jong Un's father, the late Kim Jong Il. </p><p> James Wallace, creative manager and programmer at the Alamo Drafthouse in Dallas/Fort Worth, explained to The Hollywood Reporter that the theater's "just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation."</p><p> As of now, it looks like "The Interview" is completely shelved. Despite speculation the comedy might be released digitally, studio Sony Pictures said in a statement that it "has no further release plans for the film."</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:59:39 GMT

Florida man accused of faking heart attack so friend could steal toys at Walmart

<p> Two men were arrested Tuesday in Central Florida after, according to deputies, one of them faked a heart attack inside a Walmart so the other one could steal toys.</p><p> [WATCH FULL VIDEO BELOW (Check 3:30 mark for fake heart attack.)]</p><p> Tarus Scott, 30, and Genard Dupree, 27, both of Lake Wales, were arrested on charges of grand theft.</p><p> According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the duo filled a shopping cart full of toys, including a motorized Barbie car, inside the Walmart at 2000 State Road East in Lake Wales. </p><p> The men then walked through the store together and Dupree laid down on the ground near the entrance, clutched his chest and pretended to have a heart attack, according to deputies.</p><p> Concerned citizens rushed to Dupree while Scott walked out of the store, deputies said.  Once Scott was out of the store, Dupree stood up and the duo got into a silver sport utility vehicle, deputies said.</p><p> The men were later arrested and taken to jail.</p><p> Deputies said Scott and Dupree have extensive criminal histories, adding that Scott was recently released after serving 10 years in state prison.</p><p> </p>

Published: Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:07:27 GMT

They tried to break the Internet in 2014

<p> Thank you Kim Kardashian.</p><p> Because of the reality star and her naked backside, we heard the phrase "break the Internet" more than we would have imagined in 2014. Of course, no one thing actually "broke" it, but here are 10 of the memes and hashtags that tried:</p><p> 1. Kim Kardashian's Paper magazine cover</p><p> Of course we have to start with this one, but what is really left to say? She did her booty duty by posing nude and oiled on the cover. What followed was an embarrassment of meme riches, with the "peach emoji booty" being one of the most innocent.</p><p> 2. The Solange/Jay Z/Beyonce elevator incident</p><p> It was the fight watched 'round the world.</p><p> Video of superstar rapper Jay Z being pummeled by his sister-in-law, singer and fashionista Solange Knowles in an elevator gave birth to sooooo many memes. Some were funny, some were rude, but all were creative.</p><p> 3. It's none of Kermit's business</p><p> Kermit loves his tea. This meme was all about the world's most famous Muppet offering snarky social commentary while sipping his beverage and ending with the line "But that's none of my business." </p><p> 4. #YesAllWomen</p><p> This social media campaign got started in response to postings by Elliot Rodger, who went on killing spree in Isla Vista, California, in May. His anger toward women sparked the hashtag women used to share their stories and thoughts on violence and misogyny.</p><p> 5. Ice Bucket Challenge</p><p> The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge very quickly raised more than $100 million and awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's disease." Hundreds of celebs and thousands of nonfamous folks posted videos of themselves being doused for the cause.</p><p> According to Google, there were more than 90 million searches for the term in August. #IceBucketChallenge was everywhere from Twitter to Instagram and Facebook. </p><p> 6. #AlexfromTarget</p><p> Alex Lee was just your typical 16-year-old working a part-time job at Target when a picture of him went viral after it was tweeted thanks to his handsome visage. Quicker than you could say "Internet sensation," the kid was everywhere. Based on a New York Times profile, he seems to have taken it all in stride. </p><p> 7. #BlackLivesMatter</p><p> The hashtag has exploded since the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin and the more recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner after encounters with police officers. It's helped lead the online discussion of race relations in America.</p><p> 8. Things Tim Howard could save</p><p> Howard performed magnificently during the USA-Belgium World Cup match and his goalie skills inspired memes listing other things he could save. The U.S. team may not have won the World Cup, but Howard definitely won the internet.</p><p> 9. Nude celeb hack </p><p> Months before the now famous Sony hack, celebrities such as actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton had to deal with their iCloud accounts being compromised and personal photos disseminated. The FBI quickly got on the case, but not before the world had seen way more of some stars than they ever anticipated. Many of the memes aren't suitable for work, but they are out there for you to peruse after you clock out.</p><p> 10. #WeCanLandOnACometButWeCant</p><p> After a mechanical space traveler called the Philae probe landed on a comet in November, the Internet started theorizing about other things that are surely easier to accomplish than a comet landing but aren't happening. The jokes were endless but, seriously, why can't you order breakfast at McDonald's after 10:30 a.m.?</p><p> So many of the suggestions made total sense and we co-signed many of them, except "#WeCanLandOnACometButWeCant UnCat the Internet." Because honestly, the Internet was made for cat memes.</p><p> .</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:47:35 GMT

Where are 'Dawson's Creek' stars today?

<p> With Katie Holmes celebrating her 36th birthday on Thursday, join us for a look at what she and her fellow "Dawson's Creek" castmembers have been up to since the show went off the air.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:00 GMT

Top movies of 2014

<p> From science fiction thrillers to biblical epics, find out which movies took in the most money this year. All amounts are from</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:04:31 GMT