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.

A Teen Was Ticketed at School for a Theft She Says Didn’t Happen. Years Later, She’s Still Fighting.

The Illinois student’s long ordeal shows the extraordinary effort it can take to overturn a school-related ticket. Her case — involving a missing pair of AirPods — is heading to a jury trial.

Illinois Will Investigate Possible Civil Rights Violations in Student Ticketing

The Illinois attorney general’s office said it is trying to determine if a suburban Chicago school district violated students’ civil rights when police ticketed them for minor misbehavior.

Illinois Will Stop Helping Cities Collect Some School Ticket Debt From Students

Since a Chicago Tribune-ProPublica investigation, school officials say they’re reevaluating when to involve law enforcement in student discipline.

Black Students in Illinois Are Far More Likely to Be Ticketed by Police for School Behavior Than White Students

Federal data has shown Illinois schools suspend and expel Black students at disproportionate rates. Now we know it’s happening with tickets and fines, too.

Illinois’ Education Chief Urges Schools to Stop Working With Police to Ticket Students for Misbehavior

Responding to a ProPublica-Chicago Tribune investigation, Illinois’ schools superintendent says ticketing students hurts children and their families.

The Price Kids Pay: Schools and Police Punish Students With Costly Tickets for Minor Misbehavior

Illinois law bans schools from fining students. So local police are doing it for them, issuing thousands of tickets a year for truancy, vaping, fights and other misconduct. Children are then thrown into a legal system designed for adults.

Do Police Give Students Tickets in Your Illinois School District?

Do police in your Illinois school district give students tickets for truancy, vaping, fighting or other violations of local ordinances? Search our interactive database to find out.

Michigan Supreme Court Limits Use of Restraints on Juveniles

A year after Grace’s story drew national attention when she was jailed for not doing her online schoolwork, outcry over the shackling of young people in court has resulted in a ban on the practice unless there’s a risk of physical harm or flight.

After Grace’s Story, Michigan Will Study Its Juvenile Justice System

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed a task force to examine the state’s juvenile justice system and recommend reforms after a Black teen was jailed for not doing her online coursework.

Illinois Dramatically Limits Use of Seclusion and Face-Down Restraints in Schools

A new bill will ban school workers from locking children in seclusion spaces and limit most uses of isolated timeout and physical restraint. A ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation found widespread abuse of the practices in Illinois.

Illinois Continued to Seclude and Restrain Students This Year Even Though Many Schools Were Closed

Even during the coronavirus pandemic with limited in-person learning, staff at Illinois schools secluded and restrained students more than 15,000 times during the 2020-21 school year, new data shows.

Has Your Family Paid Fees or Fines to a Juvenile Justice System?

Has your family faced financial hardship as a result of a delinquency case? We’d like to hear from you.

Bill Banning Locked Seclusion and Face-Down Restraints in Illinois Schools Stalls as Lawmakers Run Out of Time

Illinois lawmakers pledge to try again to prohibit what one called “horrific and barbaric” methods of controlling students.

Judges Are Locking Up Children for Noncriminal Offenses Like Repeatedly Disobeying Their Parents and Skipping School

Michigan’s juvenile justice system is archaic. Counties act with little oversight, and the state keeps such poor data it doesn’t know how many juveniles it has in custody or what happens to them once they’re in the system.

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.

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