Jodi S. Cohen

Reporter

Photo of Jodi S. Cohen

Jodi S. Cohen is a reporter for ProPublica Illinois. Before joining ProPublica Illinois, Jodi worked at the Chicago Tribune for 14 years, including as an investigative reporter and editor. As the paper’s higher education reporter for 10 years, she, along with colleagues, exposed a secret admissions system at the University of Illinois for well-connected applicants, questionable spending at the College of DuPage, mismanagement at Chicago State University and failures in the Chicago Police Department’s disciplinary system. That work has led to numerous reforms.

In 2010, she was named the Illinois Journalist of the Year by Northern Illinois University and, among other national and state honors, she is a four-time winner of a National Headliner Award, a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award, the Chicago Headline Club’s Watchdog Award, and the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers, administered by the Nieman Foundation. She formerly reported for The Detroit News and graduated with honors with a degree in political science from the University of Michigan, where she was Managing News Editor of The Michigan Daily.

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.”

COVID-19 Killed at Least 25 Residents of One Illinois Nursing Home. The Family of One Victim Has Filed a Lawsuit, Alleging Negligence.

The family of a Bria of Geneva resident who died from the coronavirus in April claims in the lawsuit that the nursing home failed to adequately test residents and staff, and didn’t isolate infected residents in time to protect others.

A Quarter of the Residents at This Nursing Home Died From COVID-19. Families Want Answers.

Within three weeks, the Bria of Geneva nursing home went from one case of COVID-19 to two dozen residents dead and at least 75 infected. Delayed testing and gaps in nursing home data obscures the true toll of the crisis.

This Rural School District Has Been Asking for Wi-Fi for Years. Now It’s Finally Getting It.

An anonymous individual donated a dozen internet hotspots. A school district near Chicago is sending Chromebooks. And a superintendent in rural Illinois is stunned by the support to keep his students learning.

How Often Do Schools Use Seclusion and Restraint? The Federal Government Isn’t Properly Tracking the Data, According to a New Report

A new report from the Government Accountability Office found the U.S. Department of Education’s attempts to determine how often schools use seclusion and restraint were “largely ineffective or do not exist.” That could put children at risk.

Most Illinois School Districts Did Not Have Approved E-learning Plans Before the Pandemic

Despite encouragement from Illinois education officials to have remote e-learning plans, many school districts scrambled to design them before the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close.

How a School Stopped Relying on Restraining and Isolating Students — and What Others Can Learn From It

Some Illinois schools say they need to keep using dangerous forms of physical restraint and student isolation. Here’s how one school system in Virginia successfully shifted its entire approach to safety — from face-down holds to bubble baths.

Lawmakers Vow to Push for a Statewide Ban on Face-Down Restraint of Children in Illinois Schools, Despite Reversal

After a group of schools pressured the Illinois State Board of Education to reverse its ban on a dangerous form of physical restraint of students, lawmakers say they’ll seek to permanently ban the practice.

Illinois Quietly Reversed Its Ban on a Dangerous Physical Restraint for Students

After a ProPublica Illinois and Chicago Tribune investigation sparked a statewide ban on some forms of seclusion and restraint of students, a small group of schools lobbied against the measure. And it worked.

An Employee at an Illinois School We Reported On Has Been Charged With Battering a 7-Year-Old Boy

A ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation found that schools throughout the state misused seclusion and restraint tactics against Illinois children. The criminal case is the second in the last year of an employee charged with mistreating a child.

He Was Ordered to Self-Isolate. He Didn’t. Now He’s Facing Criminal Charges.

A man with coronavirus symptoms walked into a busy gas station store in southeastern Illinois. Prosecutors there charged him with reckless conduct, saying the man “showed a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.”

Not All Schools Can #KeepLearning

While educators promote online learning as coronavirus spreads, some Illinois students aren’t equipped with the broadband to even notice.

When the State Shifted to E-learning, This Rural School Superintendent Shifted to the Copy Machine

With schools closed because of coronavirus, students are expected to learn remotely. But what happens when your school district doesn’t have the internet access to keep you in school? Here’s one district’s paper trail.

Chicago Public Libraries Are Staying Open Even Though Librarians Say It Is Not Safe

At least seven city library branches didn’t open or closed early Wednesday because not enough staff showed up to work.

Chicago Shuts Down, but Its Public Libraries Are Open. Librarians Want Them Closed.

Librarians and other employees are protesting by calling in sick and signing a petition, saying the branches should be closed until the coronavirus is under control.

Illinois Adopts Stricter Rules Against Secluding and Physically Restraining Students in Schools

The state board of education stopped short of a complete ban on seclusion after a small number of special education schools asked for more leeway in dealing with students.

School Employees Have Used Isolated Timeouts Illegally, State Investigations Find

In six of eight districts investigators examined, they found that workers broke the law by improperly secluding students. Parents say the investigations, which were prompted by a Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois story, have not gone far enough.

Illinois Lawmakers Are Calling for a Nationwide Ban on Isolated Timeouts of Students

Four states currently ban the practice of secluding students at school. Illinois lawmakers want Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to make it 50. “This shouldn’t be controversial,” said U.S. Rep. Sean Casten.

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