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.

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.

Out of Jail and Back in School, Grace Finds Her Voice

“Your past does not define you,” Grace said in her first public event. The Michigan teen’s case sparked national outrage and the #FreeGrace campaign after she was sent to juvenile detention for not completing online schoolwork.

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.

¿Son seguras las escuelas y las universidades en Estados Unidos? ¿Los alumnos realmente aprenden? Ayúdenos a saber más.

ProPublica está cubriendo la reapertura de escuelas, colegios superiores y universidades durante COVID-19 y necesitamos su ayuda. Cuéntenos acerca de la seguridad, el ámbito académico, las colegiaturas y el acceso al aprendizaje.

Are You Going to School During the Pandemic? Or Working There?

ProPublica is covering school, college and university reopenings during COVID-19, and we need your help. Tell us about safety, academics, tuition and access to learning.

Case Closed: Michigan Judge Removes Grace, Black Teen Jailed for Not Doing Online Schoolwork, From Probation

The 15-year-old is now free from the court system. In a hearing, an Oakland County judge released her from probation after a caseworker said, “It is best for the family to move forward.”

Grace, Black Teen Jailed for Not Doing Her Online Coursework, Is Released

Grace’s story, first published by ProPublica Illinois, prompted outrage and debate across the country. Though a judge refused to set the girl free, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered her immediate release from a juvenile detention facility in Detroit.

Prosecutors Say They Support Releasing Girl Who Was Detained for Not Doing Her Schoolwork

Although earlier this year prosecutors pushed for the detention of a Michigan high schooler during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have now repeatedly said they support sending her home to her mother.

Judge Won’t Free Michigan Teenager Sent to Juvenile Detention After Not Doing Online Schoolwork

At a hearing Monday, Judge Mary Ellen Brennan denied a motion to release a 15-year-old from a juvenile facility. “I think you are exactly where you are supposed to be,” Brennan said. “You are blooming there, but there is more work to be done.”

The Michigan Supreme Court Is Reviewing the Case of a Teenager Incarcerated After Not Doing Online Schoolwork During the Pandemic

Attorneys for a 15-year-old sent to juvenile detention for not doing her schoolwork argued the teenager is not a threat to the community, contrary to a judge’s ruling. Now Michigan’s Supreme Court is stepping in.

Thousands Demand That Michigan #FreeGrace After the Teenager Was Incarcerated for Not Doing Her Schoolwork

After a ProPublica investigation, public officials are pushing for the release of a Black 15-year-old sent to juvenile detention after a judge ruled that not doing her online schoolwork violated her probation. A petition has thousands of signatures.

A Teenager Didn’t Do Her Online Schoolwork. So a Judge Sent Her to Juvenile Detention.

A 15-year-old in Michigan was incarcerated during the coronavirus pandemic after a judge ruled that not completing her schoolwork violated her probation. “It just doesn’t make any sense,” said the girl’s mother.

“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.”

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.

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