News Cast for August 7th:

Teacher goes to jail

A former Central Elementary School teacher admitted to an improper sexual relationship with an underage student and received one year in jail.

Paige Leduc, 26, also received five years of sex offender probation.

The sentence means she can no longer teach.  She will be required to register as a sex offender.

She was adjudicated guilty of sexual activity with a minor, a crime that has a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Prosecutor Ashley Albright said teachers need to be alert about new laws involving relationships with students.

“There is a brand-new statute that even if a student is over age 18, it is still a crime.  Teachers, by no means, can not have any kind of romantic relationship with a student, regardless of their age, through high school.”

Two teachers and one coach have been arrested in recent months for alleged relationships with students in the school system.

Reading scores are lagging in Florida, in the nation and in Okeechobee Schools.

Okeechobee schools followed the state wide trend of lower reading proficiency on the Florida Standard assessments tests.

Only half of the state’s third graders were reading at grade level a drop of two percent.

Reading and math test scores for 13-year-old students nationwide showed the largest declines ever recorded. Math scores dropped by nine points and reading dropped by four.

Educators were expecting some drops due to COVID-19 and the amount of class time lost in 2021-2022.

Okeechobee school superintendent Ken Kenworthy said Okeechobee had pockets of success.  He mentioned more students getting industry certifications.

“The test is much more rigorous.  There are no learning gains to measure this year.  We can’t compared one test to the other.  They will release grades but they will hold us harmless.”

The school grades are expected out sometime this fall.

The first day of school is Thursday, August 10th.

Glades County schools are emphasizing attendance this year.

Supt. of Schools Dr. Beth Barfield said parents need to make sure their kids make it to school.

“One of our goals this year is to have students attend school regularly.  Chronic absenteeism really negatively impacts learning.  It is one of our top priorities second only to student safety.”

They also want motorists to know that school buses will be back on the roads this week.

Superintendent Dr. Beth Barfield asked motorists to be aware.

“We are asking all our parents and community members to be aware to slow down.  August 10th those buses will be rolling.  Sometimes it slips our minds.  We are going 60 miles per hour and we see a school bus stopped and its hard to slam on the brakes.”

She also urged drivers to slow down in school zones.

It is also illegal to use cell phones in school zones.

An Okeechobee teen was shot this weekend in Lake Placid.

Highlands County Sheriff’s Office detectives are investigating a shooting that took place early Sunday in the Leisure Lakes area.

Deputies said approximately 100-150 people were gathered at a known party spot in the woods around 1:30 a.m. when shots were fired into the crowd. Two people, a 19-year-old female from Sebring and a 16-year-old male from Okeechobee, were shot. Both were airlifted to a trauma center, where both were in stable condition at last report.

Highlands County deputies said the community can help with tips on this crime by calling detectives at 863-402-7200 option 1 or email

Anonymous tips can be left via the HCSO app or with Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (**TIPS on your cell phone) or at Crime Stoppers tips are always anonymous and can be eligible for a cash reward.