Skip to content
ProPublica
Donate

ProPublica
Donate

Inside Shrub Oak

Two Reporters Covering Education in the Midwest Followed the Money … to a School in New York

Jennifer Smith Richards and Jodi S. Cohen are based in Chicago and cover the Midwest. But when they looked into where vulnerable Illinois students wound up, they found themselves at an unregulated, for-profit school in New York.

Reporting From the Midwest

Our team in the Midwest covers Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri. Based in Chicago, it grew out of our first regional publishing operation, which focused on people living and working in Illinois. Read more.

Inside Shrub Oak

Three States Have Warned Against Sending Students to an Unregulated Boarding School for Youth With Autism

After visiting Shrub Oak International School, officials from Connecticut, Washington and Massachusetts have advised districts of troubling conditions at the school where a ProPublica investigation uncovered reports of abuse and neglect.

Michigan Bottlers Still Get Free Water, Despite Whitmer’s Tough Talk

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had pledged to crack down on bottled water companies taking water at the same time Flint, Michigan, faced a water crisis. Six years later and in her second term, little has changed.

The Price Kids Pay

An Illinois School District’s Reliance on Police to Ticket Students Is Discriminatory, Civil Rights Complaint Says

Two civil rights groups are asking the U.S. Department of Education to force Rockford Public Schools, the third-largest district in Illinois, to stop discriminatory discipline involving police.

Local Reporting Network Partners

ProPublica is supporting local and regional newsrooms as they work on important investigative projects affecting their communities. Some of our past and present partners in the region:

Chicago Tribune
Chicago, Illinois
The Southern Illinoisan
Carbondale, Illinois
WBEZ
Chicago, Illinois
The Daily Herald
Arlington Heights, Illinois
The Business Journal
Youngstown, Ohio
Outlier Media
Detroit, Michigan

The Gospel of Matthew Trewhella: How a Militant Anti-Abortion Activist Is Influencing Republican Politics

The Wisconsin pastor was once a political pariah. But now his book is being quoted by politicians and former Trump officials. One activist is using it to disrupt elections.

The Failure to Track Data on Stillbirths Undermines Efforts to Prevent Them

Fetal death records are often missing cause of death, race and other crucial information. ProPublica found that the problem is only getting worse.

How Illinois’ Hands-Off Approach to Homeschooling Leaves Children at Risk

At 9 years old, L.J. started missing school. His parents said they would homeschool him. It took two years — during which he was beaten and denied food — for anyone to notice he wasn’t learning.

¿Qué hago si me lesiono en el trabajo en una granja de Wisconsin?

Esta guía explica sus derechos en ranchos grandes y pequeños. Se basa en entrevistas con abogados y otros expertos.

What You Need to Know If You’re Hurt While Working on a Wisconsin Dairy Farm

We spoke to lawyers, health care providers, government officials and others to help workers understand their rights if they’re injured on the job.

A Security Camera Caught an Employee Beating a Patient. It Took 11 Days for Anyone to Take Action.

After our investigation revealed patient abuse at Illinois’ Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center, the facility installed cameras to help. But the footage isn’t monitored unless there’s an allegation of misconduct.

Ticketed at School as a Teen, a Young Black Woman Is Suing an Illinois City for Violating Her Civil Rights

It took four years and a jury trial for Amara Harris to beat the ticket that accused her of stealing another girl’s AirPods. Now she’s heading back to court in the hope of stopping schools from using police to discipline students.

Scenes From a MAGA Meltdown: Inside the “America First” Movement’s War Over Democracy

Across the country, the Republican Party’s rank-and-file have turned on the GOP establishment. In Michigan, this schism broke the party — and maybe democracy itself.

How 3M Execs Convinced a Scientist the Forever Chemicals She Found in Human Blood Were Safe

Decades ago, Kris Hansen showed 3M that its PFAS chemicals were in people’s bodies. Her bosses halted her work.

Illinois School Districts Sent Kids to a For-Profit Out-of-State Facility That Isn’t Vetted or Monitored

A state law was meant to help families by allowing the use of public money to fund students’ tuition at special education boarding schools around the country. But in solving one problem, lawmakers created another.

Minnesota AG Sues Contract-for-Deed Seller Who Allegedly Targeted Muslim Community

The complaint, which alleges violations of lending law and religious discrimination, follows a ProPublica and Sahan Journal investigation.

Even When a Cop Is Killed With an Illegally Purchased Weapon, the Gun Store’s Name Is Kept Secret

A 2003 law pushed by the gun industry limits the information shared by federal agents and shields gun shops from public scrutiny, but ProPublica was able to identify the store that sold the gun used in the shooting of a Chicago police officer.

This School for Autistic Youth Can Cost $573,200 a Year. It Operates With Little Oversight, and Students Have Suffered.

No state agency has authority over Shrub Oak, one of the country's most expensive therapeutic boarding schools. As a result, parents and staff have nowhere to report bruised students and medication mix-ups.

Ten Years After the Flint Water Crisis, Distrust and Anger Linger

A city is forever changed, and so is residents’ relationship with their water. The betrayal of trust by the institutions meant to protect Flint’s residents has made some of them extra cautious as they look to keep themselves and their community safe.

The Chief Prosecutor in Elkhart, Indiana, Is Accused of Misconduct for Making Contradictory Allegations

A man serving 55 years has filed a motion to overturn his conviction, arguing that the state prosecuted him for giving a gun to a drive-by shooter even though another man had already pleaded guilty to giving the same gun to the shooter.

Layout List See More Stories
Most Read

    School Vouchers Were Supposed to Save Taxpayer Money. Instead They Blew a Massive Hole in Arizona’s Budget.

    Arizona, the model for voucher programs across the country, has spent so much money paying private schoolers’ tuition that it’s now facing hundreds of millions in budget cuts to critical state programs and projects.

    The Biden Administration Says Its Trade Policy Puts People Over Corporations. Documents on Baby Formula Show Otherwise.

    U.S. officials have challenged baby formula regulations in more than half a dozen countries, sometimes after manufacturers complained. Critics say the efforts are undermining public health.

    Inside Ziklag, the Secret Organization of Wealthy Christians Trying to Sway the Election and Change the Country

    The little-known charity is backed by famous conservative donors, including the families behind Hobby Lobby and Uline. It’s spending millions to make a big political push for this election — but it may be violating the law.

    A Closer Look

    Trump Built a National Debt So Big That It’ll Weigh Down the Economy for Years

    The “King of Debt” promised to reduce the national debt — then his tax cuts made it surge. Add in the pandemic, and he oversaw the third-biggest deficit increase of any president.

    In Private Speech, J.D. Vance Said the “Devil Is Real” and Praised Alex Jones as a Truth-Teller

    Vance gave the speech to the secretive Teneo Network. The GOP vice presidential nominee has been a member of the Leonard Leo-backed group, which seeks to cultivate conservative influence in business and culture.