Jennifer Smith Richards

ProPublica Distinguished Fellow

New Data Gives Insight Into Ticketing at Five Suburban Chicago School Districts

ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune’s unique student ticketing database has been updated. Naperville data reveals signs of racial disparities in ticketing in one school but not in a second.

A Teen Was Ticketed at School for a Theft She Says Didn’t Happen. Years Later, She’s Still Fighting.

The Illinois student’s long ordeal shows the extraordinary effort it can take to overturn a school-related ticket. Her case — involving a missing pair of AirPods — is heading to a jury trial.

Illinois Will Investigate Possible Civil Rights Violations in Student Ticketing

The Illinois attorney general’s office said it is trying to determine if a suburban Chicago school district violated students’ civil rights when police ticketed them for minor misbehavior.

Illinois Will Stop Helping Cities Collect Some School Ticket Debt From Students

Since a Chicago Tribune-ProPublica investigation, school officials say they’re reevaluating when to involve law enforcement in student discipline.

Black Students in Illinois Are Far More Likely to Be Ticketed by Police for School Behavior Than White Students

Federal data has shown Illinois schools suspend and expel Black students at disproportionate rates. Now we know it’s happening with tickets and fines, too.

Illinois’ Education Chief Urges Schools to Stop Working With Police to Ticket Students for Misbehavior

Responding to a ProPublica-Chicago Tribune investigation, Illinois’ schools superintendent says ticketing students hurts children and their families.

The Price Kids Pay: Schools and Police Punish Students With Costly Tickets for Minor Misbehavior

Illinois law bans schools from fining students. So local police are doing it for them, issuing thousands of tickets a year for truancy, vaping, fights and other misconduct. Children are then thrown into a legal system designed for adults.

Do Police Give Students Tickets in Your Illinois School District?

Do police in your Illinois school district give students tickets for truancy, vaping, fighting or other violations of local ordinances? Search our interactive database to find out.

Illinois Dramatically Limits Use of Seclusion and Face-Down Restraints in Schools

A new bill will ban school workers from locking children in seclusion spaces and limit most uses of isolated timeout and physical restraint. A ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation found widespread abuse of the practices in Illinois.

Illinois Continued to Seclude and Restrain Students This Year Even Though Many Schools Were Closed

Even during the coronavirus pandemic with limited in-person learning, staff at Illinois schools secluded and restrained students more than 15,000 times during the 2020-21 school year, new data shows.

Bill Banning Locked Seclusion and Face-Down Restraints in Illinois Schools Stalls as Lawmakers Run Out of Time

Illinois lawmakers pledge to try again to prohibit what one called “horrific and barbaric” methods of controlling students.

National Ban on School Use of Seclusion and Restraint of Students Introduced in Congress

Congressional Democrats introduced legislation to ban schools from using physical restraints that can restrict students’ breathing, and from using isolated timeout. ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune last year revealed the harms of these practices.

New Data Shows the Use of Seclusion and Restraint Increased in Illinois Schools During the 2017–18 School Year

As lawmakers prepare to debate a statewide ban on seclusion and restraint, Illinois schools reported using seclusion — the practice of forcibly isolating a student in a small room or other space — at least 10,776 times in the 2017–18 school year.

Grenades, Bread and Body Bags: How Illinois Has Spent $1.6 Billion in Response to COVID-19 So Far

Fighting — and adapting to — the coronavirus in Illinois has been costly. So far, state agencies have spent more than $1.6 billion in federal and state COVID-19 funding since late March, buying everything from face masks to Subway sandwiches.

Illinois Will Start Sharing Data About COVID-19 Outbreaks in Schools

As educators and parents assess the risk of returning to the classroom, some felt frustrated by the lack of public data about COVID-19 in schools. After a ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation, the state will start publishing the data.

Illinois Has Had COVID-19 Outbreaks in 44 Schools but Won’t Say Where They’ve Occurred

More children are testing positive for COVID-19 than they were between March and mid-August, when schools shut down. As parents weigh the safety of in-person learning, Illinois has not published information about the virus’s spread in schools.

“I Can’t Breathe.” It Happens at Schools, Too.

Students in Illinois schools said “I can’t breathe” while being restrained at least 30 times over the time period we investigated, according to our analysis of the records. The practice of face-down restraint is still legal in Illinois.

Bill to Ban Seclusion and Face-Down Restraints in Illinois Schools Gets Sidelined After Pushback From Administrators

After months of debate, lawmakers did not vote on a bill that would have banned the use of seclusion and restraint in Illinois schools. Administrators argued meeting with families for each incident burdens school workers.

More Than 1 in 5 Illinoisans Living in State Homes for Adults With Disabilities Have Tested Positive for the Coronavirus

In Illinois, at least 355 people who live in state-run homes for adults with disabilities have tested positive for the coronavirus. “They don’t know why their family has stopped coming to visit,” a relative said.

Families of Special Needs Students Fear They’ll Lose School Services in Coronavirus Shutdown

In letters to parents of special education students, some Illinois school districts are asking them to accept scaled-back remote learning plans or waive their rights to “free appropriate public education.”

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