Congratulations to IRE member Brian Rosenthal of the Houston Chronicle for winning the 2017 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting. USC Annenberg recognized Rosenthal for his seven-part series, “Denied,” which uncovered a systematic denial of special education services for tens of thousands of children with disabilities in the state of Texas. 

According to the USC news release, the series elicited bipartisan outrage in the Texas legislature and led to the introduction of eight bills aimed at ending caps on special education enrollment. The federal government has also launched an investigation.

The Selden Ring judges wrote: “Rosenthal’s series, ‘Denied,’ vividly detailed the suffering caused by officials’ imposition of an arbitrary cap on special ed, at levels far lower than elsewhere in the nation. His work prompted swift action, fundamentally rewriting access to education for hundreds of thousands of Texas’ most vulnerable students and their families.” 

“I hope this will raise awareness and serve as a reminder about the need for states to take seriously their responsibility to students with disabilities,” Rosenthal said in the news release. 

The $35,000 annual Selden Ring Award honors a work of investigative journalism that enacts tangible change. The award is given by the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.