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Hillsborough Schools investigating report of unmarked cemetery found near a Tampa high school

Posted at 3:47 PM, Oct 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-18 22:56:24-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- The local community is raising concerns after dozens of burials may be near a high school in Tampa Friday afternoon.

According to the Hillsborough County Public Schools, someone came forward with information about African-American burials near King High School.

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Hillsborough schools superintendent Jeff Eakins said the district is reaching out to experts to scan underground starting Monday.

According to the school district, the burials may be an undiscovered cemetery for impoverished African Americans.

A concerned citizen came forward with a deed dating back to 1959. It refers to an indigent cemetery on the southern edge of King High School's current property line.

“To know that there’s a burial ground that just went totally uncared for, just kind of thrown away, it’s disheartening to me," said school board chair Tamara Shamburger. "It’s representative of what my culture has experienced in this country and so folks like me, we’re going to fight to change that.”

According to the district, documents reviewed since Thursday, including appraisals and deeds, aerial maps, and county records, have conflicting information.

A property appraisal also dating back to 1959 states a cemetery is located about 500 feet east of the school's property line.

"This is a top priority of our district right now,"said Eakins. "We will show the highest level of respect for the individuals who may be buried in the cemetery and their descendants"

The area in question is currently used for agricultural programs at the school. District leaders have relocated the program.

If an unmarked cemetery is located east of the school's property, as one appraisal suggests, that would fall under Hillsborough County's ownership. Officials with the county are not commenting if they are actively looking into cemetery concerns.