Jodi S. Cohen


Photo of Jodi S. Cohen

Jodi S. Cohen is a reporter for ProPublica whose work has examined the widespread practice of police ticketing students at school for minor infractions, the misuse of seclusion and restraint in Illinois public schools, systemic problems in Michigan’s juvenile justice system after a girl was incarcerated during the pandemic for not doing her online school work and a college financial aid scam. She collaborated with colleagues to cover the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for immigrants. Previously, Cohen worked at the Chicago Tribune for 14 years, where she covered higher education and helped expose a secret admissions system at the University of Illinois.

Her stories have led to changes in state laws and policies as well as the release of a teenager from detention. She has been awarded the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism, the Education Writers Association Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize, the Investigative Reporters & Editors Award, the Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics, the ONA Award for Investigative Data Journalism, the Chicago Headline Club’s Watchdog Award and the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Journalism. She also was honored with the Studs Terkel Award, which recognizes journalists whose career has been driven by service and connection to their communities.

Cohen graduated with a degree in political science from the University of Michigan, where she was managing editor of the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Based in Chicago, she is passionate about local news and wants to hear your Midwest story tips.

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.

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.

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.

New York Education Department Hindered an Abuse Investigation at Boarding School for Autistic Youth

A state judge ruled that the agency must cooperate in a disability rights investigation into Shrub Oak International School. A ProPublica investigation found that would-be whistleblowers could not get state authorities to intervene at the school.

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.

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.

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.

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Michigan Enacts Laws to Reform Its Juvenile Justice System

In the aftermath of revelations from ProPublica, a government task force pushed for changes. New laws aim to keep low-level offenses out of court, provide more resources to young offenders and eliminate fines.

A Chicago Cop Is Accused of Lying Under Oath 44 Times. Now Prosecutors Are Dropping Cases That Relied on His Testimony.

Former Chicago officer Jeffrey Kriv faces charges for perjury and forgery after getting out of dozens of traffic violations by claiming his girlfriend had stolen his car. Now, cases that stem from arrests Kriv made are in jeopardy.

Years After Being Ticketed at School for a Theft She Said Never Happened, Former Student Prevails in Court

Amara Harris declined plea deals and ultimately won a legal fight that dates back to 2019. Now she and her attorneys want to push for statewide reforms.

Illinois Officials Will Try a Second Time to Make Good on Pledge to Reform Student Ticketing

Despite legislative setbacks, state leaders and Gov. J.B. Pritzker say they remain committed to stopping schools from continuing to use police to punish students.

This Cop Got Out of 44 Tickets by Saying Over and Over That His Girlfriend Stole His Car

Chicago police officer Jeffrey Kriv used the same alibi to contest dozens of traffic tickets over the years. A deeper look at his career sheds light on Chicago’s troubled history of police accountability.

A Chicago Suburb Stopped Ticketing Students. But It Won’t Stop Pursuing a 3-Year-Old Case Over Missing AirPods.

The city’s prosecution of a former student comes as the state considers a ban on ticketing students at school. The case is headed to a jury trial.

The Federal Government Is Investigating an Illinois School Where Students With Disabilities Were Frequently Arrested

The civil rights inquiry by the Department of Education follows a ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation that found the school regularly called police to arrest students.

New Bill Could End Police Ticketing in Illinois Schools

Students have continued to get costly citations for vaping, fighting and other misbehavior even after state officials directed educators to end the practice.

The School That Calls the Police on Students Every Other Day

An Illinois school for students with disabilities has routinely used the police to handle discipline, resulting in the highest arrest rate of any district in the country. In one recent year, half of Garrison School students were arrested.

State Investigation Reveals Racial Disparities in Student Discipline and Police Involvement

The Illinois civil rights probe of the state’s largest high school district comes after ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune documented thousands of police tickets issued to students for minor infractions.

Michigan Proposes Juvenile Justice Reforms After Story of Teen Locked Up for Missing Homework Exposed Gaps in System

The story of Grace, the Michigan teen detained for not doing her online schoolwork during the pandemic, has prompted a series of juvenile justice reforms.

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.

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