Jodi S. Cohen

Reporter

Photo of Jodi S. Cohen

Jodi S. Cohen is a reporter for ProPublica, where she focuses on stories about schools and juvenile justice. Her stories have uncovered the misuse of seclusion and restraint in Illinois public schools, exposed systemic problems in Michigan’s juvenile justice system after a girl was incarcerated during the pandemic for not doing her online school work, and revealed misconduct in a psychiatric research study at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a college financial aid scam. She is based in Chicago.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

How We Reported This Story

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

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