Extra Extra : June 2012

Columbus schools caught 'fixing' attendance data

"The Columbus Dispatch has been told by four former district data analysts that a team of data-processing workers inflated Columbus schools’ attendance figures by routinely and purposely removing large numbers of absent students from the rolls."

"At the same time, district administrators summoned school principals to the Kingswood Data Center. There, they were schooled in how to alter other students’ attendance data to improve the schools’ academic standing."

Community college football players caught up in criminal activity

"After a sheriff's deputy shot and killed a local community college football player during a struggle at a burglary scene Feb. 23, The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., compared recent years' football rosters at College of the Desert to county court databases."

"Reporters Keith Matheny and Kate McGinty found far more criminal activity by players than was previously known, including a player stabbing his teammate and five players robbing a sixth during a drug deal. California's leading community college running back last year played in violation of state law after a robbery conviction, the investigation found."

Wisconsin's mobile home communities overlooked

"Wisconsin's patchwork system of regulating mobile home communities often forces communities such as Plymouth to act alone when a park owner won't make repairs to houses with malfunctioning plumbing, broken heating systems and mold-covered walls, a Gannett Wisconsin Media investigation has found."

"Even though the state has the authority to respond to residents' complaints and revoke park owners' licenses, responsibility for oversight is spread between two agencies. The results can be long delays in responding, frustration for residents whose complaints bounce around in state bureaucracy and unchecked health risks for tenants, many of whom are elderly and poor."

Charter school leader claims Ph.D from unaccredited online university

"A News Journal reporter uncovered that the head of a local charter school lied about her credentials, claiming a Ph.D. from an “online university” that doesn’t exist, after following a news tip. The story evolved into the damaging effects of diploma mills such as the online service the school leader used to purchase her fake degree."

Since the story ran, "the website the school leader used to purchase her degree and the website for the fake university have already been taken down and the phones disconnected. You can, however, still see screen shots of the websites on The ...

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Virginia police deny access, even when investigation is over

"19-year-old Hailu Brook was shot and killed by Fairfax County police after he allegedly robbed a bank and crossed the county line. Officers fired 25 shots into his body, and the Arlington County Police Department conducted an official investigation into the actions of the Fairfax officers."

"The case is closed, but the Arlington police chief is refusing to release the document to the public or even the father of the slain teenager.”Transparency wouldn't kill anybody," the father told investigative reporter Michael Lee Pope, who reported the story as part of a partnership between WAMU 88.5 News and ...

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Thieves and gamblers given control of disabled vets' assets

"A Houston Chronicle/Hearst series on disabled veterans ripoffs nationwide found convicted thieves, inveterate gamblers, the bankrupt and the mentally ill were repeatedly handed control of disabled veterans’ assets and estates by the VA – and then stole from them."

"The findings of this investigation of more than 100 prosecutions and decades of audits of this program already has generated strong reaction from Congress, including calls for legislative action and reforms from U.S. Senators and key House committee members."

Gas company giants plotted to suppress land prices

"A Reuters investigation has found that under the direction of CEO Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake Energy Corp. plotted with its top competitor to suppress land prices in one of America's most promising oil and gas plays."

"In emails between Chesapeake and Encana Corp, Canada's largest natural gas company, the rivals repeatedly discussed how to avoid bidding against each other in a public land auction in Michigan two years ago and in at least nine prospective deals with private land owners.

Former chief deputy caught pawning department gun

"A Yancey County News investigation has led to the arrest of a former chief deputy on a charge of felony embezzlement. In a year-long series of stories the paper found that a pistol, bought for the sheriff's department, had been pawned."

"The newspaper proved that the gun was listed on the inventory of the sheriff's department when it was pawned, and showed that the name of the individual pawning it was the same as the chief deputy who had control of and access to the weapon."

Milwaukee Police Department misreporting violent assaults

"Echoing the findings of a Journal Sentinel investigation last month, Ben Poston reports that more than 5,300 violent assaults have been misreported since 2006, according to Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn whom told a Common Council committee Thursday."

"An internal department audit shows that 20% of aggravated assaults were underreported as lesser offenses that didn't get counted in the city's violent crime rate during that time."

Fish on American plates caught by slave labor

"In a two-part series for NPR, Investigative Fund reporters Shannon Service and Becky Palmstrom find that roughly 40 percent of the estimated 150,000 workers in the Thai fishing industry are foreigners, many of them victims of human trafficking."

"One of the workers, Cambodian Vannak Prum, did forced labor on Thai fishing boats for three years before undertaking a daredevil escape. Yesterday in Washington, DC, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored him as a 'trafficking hero.'"