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.

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.

Educators Push to Ban Seclusion of Students and Shift School Culture

Educators who testified before Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday agreed: Shutting students inside closet-sized rooms as punishment is never OK.

Schools Aren’t Supposed to Forcibly Restrain Children as Punishment. In Illinois, It Happened Repeatedly.

As Illinois moves to restrict the use of physical restraint in schools, records show the practice was often misused, leaving students and staff injured.

How We Reported This Story

We created the first-ever database of thousands of incidents of restraint and seclusion in Illinois.

A 7-Year-Old Complained About a Scary Office at School. This Is the Video His Parents Saw — a Month Later.

“I want accountability,” the boy’s father said. The video prompted one of 21 investigations into abuse at an Illinois school that secluded students more than 1,700 times last school year.

“None of the Children at the School Are Safe”

One school. 21 abuse investigations. And the struggle to stop relying on seclusion and restraint.

Illinois Will Allow Prone, Supine Restraints on Children While Schools Learn to Phase Them Out

The changes to a ban on restraints came after some schools said they could no longer serve children.

There’s an Emergency Ban on Isolated Timeouts in Illinois Schools. What’s Next?

The state board of education said it will refer school workers to law enforcement if they are suspected of committing crimes against children as the emergency ban on seclusion in Illinois public schools goes into effect.

Readers Choked Back Tears. Some Struggled to Keep Reading. We Understand.

A day after our reporting, Illinois ended isolated seclusion of children in schools across the state. What happened? Children’s voices were heard.

Illinois to Take Emergency Action to Halt Isolated Timeouts in Schools

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the practice of secluding children “appalling” and said he will work with legislators to end it.

The Quiet Rooms

Children are being locked away, alone and terrified, in schools across Illinois. Often, it’s against the law.

The Federal Government Collects Data on How Often Schools Seclude Children. The Numbers Don’t Add Up.

Even though school districts are required to report their use of seclusion and restraint to the U.S. Department of Education, it can be difficult for parents to see the full picture.

How We Reported This Story

We created the first-ever database of thousands of incidents of seclusion in Illinois.

As Students From China Flock to University of Illinois, Lawsuit Alleges Ex-Professor Targeted Female Chinese Students

The allegations came at a time when the flagship campus at Urbana-Champaign was enrolling more Chinese undergraduates during some years than any university in the U.S.

Parents Gave Up Custody of Their Children to Help Them Get Financial Aid. Now, Some Are Abandoning That Idea.

Some families are frustrated about a public backlash, saying what they did was legal. They say the real problem is the cost of higher education.

At Hearing on Financial Aid Scandal, Lawmakers Grill Officials and Look to Close a Loophole

Illinois politicians considered denying admission to students whose families exploited the guardianship law to qualify for aid they wouldn’t otherwise receive, saying it was an “injustice.”

El Departamento de Educación Federal Quiere Frenar la “Trama Fraudulenta de Ayuda Estudiantil” en que Padres Ceden La Custodia a Través de Tutelas Dudosas

Un día después de nuestro reportaje, el inspector general del departamento dice que quiere cerrar los agujeros legales de ayuda financiera.

How We Got the Story About Parents Transferring Guardianship of Their Kids to Win Financial Aid They Wouldn’t Otherwise Qualify For

A tip, and then lots of work — including looking through nearly 2,000 files — over a very short period of time.

Illinois Lawmakers Call Hearing to “Demand Answers” and Find Ways to Close a Loophole in College Financial Aid Scandal

Legislators said parents who turn over guardianship of their children to get financial aid engaged in a “manipulative practice.” They’re exploring whether they can subpoena parents to testify.

Padres Ceden La Custodia de Sus Hijos para Conseguir Becas Universitarias Basadas en Necesidad Económica

Primero, los padres transfieren la tutela de sus hijos adolescentes a un amigo o pariente. Después, el estudiante declara independencia financiera para calificar para ayudas monetarias y becas.

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