Investigating special education

  • Event: 2017 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: David DesRoches of WNPR; Brian Rosenthal of The New York Times; Heather Vogell of ProPublica
  • Date/Time: Friday, Jun. 23 at 3:45pm
  • Location: Grand Canyon 4-5
  • Audio file: Only members can listen to conference audio

With acronyms like IEP and FAPE, special education can seem confusing and intimidating. But at a time when virtually every state's flouting of federal law on educating children with disabilities is going unchecked -- and our most vulnerable students are suffering -- there are few beats with more potential for investigation. Three reporters from very different publications demystify this important topic and share tips for producing powerful work that can make a difference.

Speaker Bios

  • I seek to hold the powerful to account and shed light on misunderstood populations. My interests include disability rights, abuse of power, environmental justice, media disinformation, and the intersection of race, disability, and behavior. Some of my stories have led to congressional investigations and state legislation. My work has appeared on NPR, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, and numerous newspapers. I've gotten over two-dozen national and regional awards since 2009.

  • Brian M. Rosenthal is a metro investigative reporter at the The New York Times. Previously, he covered government for The Houston Chronicle and The Seattle Times. He was part of the reporting team that won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. He also was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for a series that exposed that Texas was denying special education services to thousands of kids with disabilities. He is a member of IRE's board of directors

  • Heather Vogell is a reporter at ProPublica. At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, her work on test cheating in public schools resulted in the indictments of the superintendent and 34 others. Her education stories have won national recognition, including the Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability. She has also worked at The Charlotte Observer, The Chicago Tribune, and The Day, in New London, Conn.

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