Illinois law bans schools from fining students. But police routinely issue tickets to children for minor misbehavior at school, burdening families with financial penalties.
A teenage girl gets sent to detention during the pandemic for not doing her online schoolwork, sparking national outrage and drawing new attention to Michigan’s archaic and fragmented juvenile justice system.
The Lucrative World of Academic Moonlighting
Children Locked Away in Illinois Schools
Faculty Sexual Misconduct in Illinois
Giving Up Guardianship to Get Aid
University of Illinois at Chicago’s Troubling Study
Alternative Schools and Accountability
Questions About Public Transparency and Private Profits
How College Debt is Putting the Squeeze on Families
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.
ProPublica previously detailed how the evangelical school had dismissed reports of rape and threatened to punish accusers for running afoul of its moral code. Investigators are now looking into whether Liberty violated federal law.
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 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.
“We’re Going to Be Conservative.” Official Orders Books Removed From Schools, Targeting Titles About Transgender People.
The North Texas superintendent’s comments, made on a leaked recording, raise constitutional concerns, legal experts said.
A Texas county’s refusal to remove two books from the children’s section of the library sparked a yearslong political battle. Now school board races have taken on a deeply partisan tone, and elections serve as a purity test for far-right politics.
Jacqueline Tessmer spoke out about students who left school without jobs or degrees, saying Baker “ruined” lives. And she’s not retracting her statements.
The EPA and others warned about potential contamination as far back as 2014. But Washington state law does not require schools or health departments to act on those findings.
Baker College promises students a better life. But few ever graduate, and even those who do often leave with crushing debt and useless degrees. No one — not the board, nor the accreditors, nor the federal government — has intervened.
The Federal Government Gave Billions to America’s Schools for COVID-19 Relief. Where Did the Money Go?
The Education Department’s limited tracking of $190 billion in pandemic support funds sent to schools has left officials in the dark about how effective the aid has been in helping students.
In their own words, parents, faculty and a student chronicle the beginning of the school year in Georgia’s Cobb County, where leadership loosened COVID-19 protocols and a wave of children were infected.
High-risk students in states and districts that have made masks optional are staying home.
My Kids’ School Won’t Reinstate Masks Despite a Recent Surge in COVID Cases. Here’s What I Chose to Do.
Georgia’s Cobb County School District had parents choose between virtual and in-person learning, then lifted its mask mandate. Many families are frantically figuring out how to navigate this reality. ProPublica reporter Nicole Carr is one of them.
Teacher Ashlee Thompson had a lot to worry about this year: A deadly virus. A poor district under threat by the state. And now, a new mandate for her students: Learn to read or flunk the third grade.
Hershey profits benefit a boarding school that spends lavishly on its low-income students. But that investment comes with strings attached — leaving some students behind and others mired in debt.
The Bureau of Indian Education Hasn’t Told the Public How Its Schools Are Performing. So We Did It Instead.
New data shows Bureau of Indian Education schools do not teach kids fast enough to close an achievement gap that starts in early childhood.
The federal agency that funds 180 schools for Native American students has failed to tell the public how its schools compare. Our analysis fills in the gap.
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.
America’s Richest School Serves Low-Income Kids. But Much of Its Hershey-Funded Fortune Isn’t Being Spent.
The nonprofit Milton Hershey School says its founding deed prevents it from spending more money on its core mission, even though that hasn’t stopped the school from making significant changes in the past.
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.
Hershey Profits Fund $17 Billion Endowment for Nonprofit School, but Board Member Says It Won’t Let Him See Financial Records
A director and alumnus of America’s wealthiest boarding school claims he had to sue the institution to see how it spends the funding it receives from sales of Hershey bars and Reese’s Pieces.
New York City Kills COVID Rule That Led to Repeated School Closings Despite No Evidence of Outbreaks
Last week ProPublica cited epidemiologists saying New York was “crazy” to keep closing schools over two unlinked positive cases. This week, the city ended the rule.
Many New York City public schools have been repeatedly closed because of two positive COVID-19 tests, even without evidence of in-school spread. Experts call it “crazy.” And it’s driving me nuts.
In Hobbs, New Mexico, the high school closed and football was cancelled, while just across the state line in Texas, students seemed to be living nearly normal lives. Here’s how pandemic school closures exact their emotional toll on young people.
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.
Stanford Medicine officials relied on a faulty algorithm to determine who should get vaccinated first, and it prioritized some high-ranking doctors over patient-facing medical residents.
When the pandemic started, several school districts in Indiana halted a long-standing practice: suing families for unpaid textbook fees. But one school district has filed nearly 300 lawsuits against parents, and others also have returned to court.
Eleven states let school districts decide whether students and staff must wear masks. One Georgia middle school where masks were optional became the center of an outbreak.
Please help us by filling out the form below and sharing it with your fellow alumni. We’ve already heard from many of your classmates, but want to hear from as many of you as possible.
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.
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.
The Federal Government Promised Native American Students Computers and Internet. Many Are Still Waiting.
Native American students in BIE operated schools were forced to start the school year without adequate technology, sometimes sharing a single computer among siblings, because the agency disbursed funding late and failed to purchase equipment in time.
¿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.
The Bureau of Indian Education has repeatedly neglected warnings that it is not providing a quality education for 46,000 Native students. Once called a “stain on our Nation’s history,” the school system has let down its students for generations.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.”
An anonymous individual donated a dozen internet hotspots. A school district near Chicago is sending Chromebooks. And a superintendent in rural Illinois is stunned by the support to keep his students learning.
How Often Do Schools Use Seclusion and Restraint? The Federal Government Isn’t Properly Tracking the Data, According to a New Report
A new report from the Government Accountability Office found the U.S. Department of Education’s attempts to determine how often schools use seclusion and restraint were “largely ineffective or do not exist.” That could put children at risk.
Despite encouragement from Illinois education officials to have remote e-learning plans, many school districts scrambled to design them before the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close.
How a School Stopped Relying on Restraining and Isolating Students — and What Others Can Learn From It
Some Illinois schools say they need to keep using dangerous forms of physical restraint and student isolation. Here’s how one school system in Virginia successfully shifted its entire approach to safety — from face-down holds to bubble baths.
The federal government has released little information about the spread of coronavirus in Navajo schools. Now, some students and school staff are sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Lawmakers Vow to Push for a Statewide Ban on Face-Down Restraint of Children in Illinois Schools, Despite Reversal
After a group of schools pressured the Illinois State Board of Education to reverse its ban on a dangerous form of physical restraint of students, lawmakers say they’ll seek to permanently ban the practice.
After a ProPublica Illinois and Chicago Tribune investigation sparked a statewide ban on some forms of seclusion and restraint of students, a small group of schools lobbied against the measure. And it worked.
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.
While educators promote online learning as coronavirus spreads, some Illinois students aren’t equipped with the broadband to even notice.
Liberty University president and Trump supporter Jerry Falwell Jr. caused a stir by keeping the campus of the evangelical university open. Now, a place known for banning premarital sex, alcohol, smoking and cursing is in a sense the most permissive.
At least seven city library branches didn’t open or closed early Wednesday because not enough staff showed up to work.
A federal crackdown on professors’ undisclosed outside activities is achieving what China has long struggled to do: spur Chinese scientists to return home. In this crisis, it’s costing the U.S. intellectual firepower.
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.
A Parent at My Kids’ School Tested Positive. New York City Didn’t Tell Us and Hasn’t Closed the School.
It’s even planning to keep a school open after a student tested positive. Its stance is in strong contrast to many other cities across the country.
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.
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.
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.
Researchers at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois and other institutions disclosed potential conflicts totaling at least $4 million, according to our “Dollars for Profs” app.
Educators who testified before Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday agreed: Shutting students inside closet-sized rooms as punishment is never OK.
While reporting on the use of physical restraint in schools, I wanted to understand if school workers properly used their training in the classroom. They often did not.
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.
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.
One school. 21 abuse investigations. And the struggle to stop relying on seclusion and restraint.
Federally Funded Health Researchers Disclose at Least $188 Million in Conflicts of Interest. Can You Trust Their Findings?
A National Institutes of Health database, which we’re making public for the first time, shows that researchers have reported more than 8,000 “significant” financial conflicts, potentially influencing their work.
We assembled the first state-by-state database of professors’ outside income and employment. But it’s far from complete.
For the first time ever, you can see conflict of interest and financial disclosure records for employees of universities across the country.
We have collected more than 37,000 financial disclosures for professors and staff at about 20 public universities and researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health. Now, we need your help.
Medical Professors Are Supposed to Share Their Outside Income With the University of California. But Many Don’t.
A comparison of University of California filings with federal data shows that moonlighting professors are shortchanging taxpayers.
The changes to a ban on restraints came after some schools said they could no longer serve children.
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.
A day after our reporting, Illinois ended isolated seclusion of children in schools across the state. What happened? Children’s voices were heard.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the practice of secluding children “appalling” and said he will work with legislators to end it.
Presidential confidant Pete Hegseth is working to defend a lucrative loophole.
Children are being locked away, alone and terrified, in schools across Illinois. Often, it’s against the law.
We created the first-ever database of thousands of incidents of seclusion in Illinois.
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.
The Hedge Fund Billionaire’s Guide to Buying Your Kids a Better Shot at Not Just One Elite College, but Lots of Them
Most tycoons give big to one or two universities as their children approach college age. David Shaw gave to seven.
We found several sexual harassment allegations against University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty that haven’t been publicly reported. Here’s a rundown of the accusations, the consequences each faced and their responses.
Have You Experienced Sexual Misconduct at an Illinois University or College? We Want to Hear From You.
We’d like to hear about your experience with misconduct on campus, or if you were subjected to it but did not or could not file a report. We need help understanding flaws in the systems intended to hold perpetrators accountable.
An administrator resigned amid sexual harassment accusations. Another college hired him. A professor was found to have stalked a coworker. She agreed to retire, then won a Fulbright grant. Campus leaders vow reforms, but many say it’s a long road.
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.
Lawmakers described the practice as disturbing, disheartening and shocking.
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.
U.S. Department of Education Wants to Stop “Student Aid Fraud Scheme” Where Parents Give Up Custody Through Dubious Guardianships
One day after our reporting, the department’s inspector general said it wants to close financial aid loopholes.
Illinois Parents Are Helping Their Children Get College Financial Aid They Wouldn’t Otherwise Qualify For. Help Us Figure Out How They Do It.
Are you a parent, student, school administrator or someone else who has seen this in action? We'd love to hear from you.
First, parents turn over guardianship of their teenagers to a friend or relative. Then the student declares financial independence to qualify for tuition aid and scholarships.
An in-depth look at software that claims to spot aggression from your voice.
Aggression Detectors: The Unproven, Invasive Surveillance Technology Schools Are Using to Monitor Students
In response to mass shootings, some schools and hospitals are installing microphones equipped with algorithms. The devices purport to identify stress and anger before violence erupts. Our testing found them less than reliable.
Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the Walton foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach for America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school.
After we obtained the documents, they led to another story about the scandal surrounding psychiatric research at the university’s Chicago campus.
UIC has played down its shortcomings in overseeing the work of a prominent child psychiatrist, but newly obtained documents show that the school acknowledged its lapses to federal officials.
School officials say the monitoring was about keeping students safe, not punishing them. But critics say it expanded the role of police in schools and increased surveillance of children.
Illinois Regulators Are Investigating a Psychiatrist Whose Research With Children Was Marred by Misconduct
A former University of Illinois at Chicago researcher is at the center of a state medical licensing and disciplinary board inquiry.
The review could shed light on the Education Department’s reluctance, documented by a series of ProPublica articles, to investigate alleged discrimination by school districts and colleges.
We published a trove of education data on more than 96,000 public schools across the country. Here’s how journalists can use our database to find local stories.
Takeaways from our “Miseducation” app and how you can use it, too.
Is there racial inequality at your school? Look up more than 96,000 individual public and charter schools and 17,000 school districts to see how they compare.
The Virginia city has one of the widest achievement gaps in the U.S., and a ProPublica/New York Times analysis shows that white students there are about four times as likely as black students to be considered gifted.
If preferences for black and Hispanic applicants are abolished, expect a backlash against admissions boosts for children of alumni and donors.
Prominent University of Illinois at Chicago psychiatrist enrolled her young sons as healthy control subjects in troubled study.
Our data analysis shows that the Trump administration is less likely than its predecessor to find wrongdoing by school districts on issues ranging from racial and sexual harassment to meeting educational needs of disabled students.
For the first time ever, ProPublica is making available the status of all of the civil rights cases that have been resolved during the past three years, as well as pending investigations. See if your school district or college is being investigated for civil rights violations and why.
Do you know something about a civil rights investigation at a school? Have you experienced or witnessed civil rights violations? We want to hear from you.
Top officials say reviews found no oversight problems, though documents undercut that claim.
Privacy rules were an obstacle to finding participants in Dr. Mani Pavuluri’s lithium studies, but we got around them.
How a star psychiatrist at the University of Illinois at Chicago violated protocols and put children at risk.
How Jerry Falwell Jr. transformed Liberty University, one of the religious right's most powerful institutions, into a wildly lucrative online empire.
Government records officers frequently cite privacy restrictions to deny data requests. Here are some tips on how to overcome or sidestep these barriers.
In much of the country, alternative schools are neglected, underfunded and stigmatized. But one of the poorest states is spending big on them.
Schools for potential dropouts market aggressively to boost enrollment — especially during weeks when heads are counted to determine funding. Some of their tactics may violate federal consumer protections.
Schools touted by Betsy DeVos aggressively recruit at-risk students, offer barebones courses, and boost revenue by inflating enrollment.
Converting into private schools — and using voucher programs to thrive on the public dime.
The Trump administration is preparing to investigate whether Asian Americans are treated unfairly as a result of admissions policies intended to boost the chances of other racial minorities.
More than 30 “disappointed and alarmed” senators penned a letter chastising civil rights enforcement at the Department of Education.
Regardless of their income, residents of small Vermont towns can use state vouchers to send their children to boarding schools and ski academies. Some school-choice advocates want to replicate the program nationwide.
After our reporting on alleged physical abuse of students at alternative schools run by Camelot Education, a Georgia school district delayed awarding a $6.4 million contract to the company.
Camelot Education, a for-profit manager of alternative schools, is facing challenges nationwide after our report on alleged physical abuse of students by staffers.
After two deaths of teenage residents in less than four years, AdvoServ has quietly taken a new name that makes it harder to follow the trail of media coverage, including ours.
Camelot Education takes the students that public schools have given up on. But some current and former students say its discipline goes too far.
State officials are following up on a ProPublica report last month that Orlando uses alternative charter schools to boost ratings and hide dropouts.
School officials nationwide dodge accountability ratings by steering low achievers to alternative programs.
It took one mother seven years to learn that the for-profit school she trusted with her son had strapped him down again and again, one time after not picking up his Legos.
While evidence of abuse of the disabled has piled up for decades, one for-profit company has used its deep pockets and influence to bully weak regulators and evade accountability