Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "Department of Education" ...

  • Education Grant Debacle Fixed: Teachers to Get Millions Back After NPR Investigation

    NPR’s Chris Arnold and Cory Turner started digging into a Department of Education grant program after spotting a brief mention in a broader lawsuit. What they uncovered was shocking: a program gone horribly wrong for thousands of public school teachers. "It's ridiculous; it's mind-boggling. It's been two years of torture," was how teacher Kaitlyn McCollum of Columbia, Tenn described it. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The program has a noble goal - to encourage aspiring young teachers like McCollum to work in the nation’s most disadvantaged communities. They agree to teach a high-need subject, like math, for four years in a public school serving low income families. In return, they get grants to pay for their own education. But the reporters found that’s not how it worked out at all. Thousands of teachers had their grants unfairly converted to loans due to a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education - leaving some bearing the burden of more than $20,000 in debt. Cory and Chris’ work not only exposed the program’s brutal inflexibility and it’s devastating impact on the lives of teachers; their seven stories, reported over the previous ten months, convinced the Department to offer teachers a dramatic fix. As a result of their reporting, the Education Department is now reaching out to thousands of teachers to return millions of dollars of grant money that was unfairly taken away from them.
  • BETRAYED: Chicago schools fail to protect students from sexual abuse and assault, leaving lasting damage

    In “Betrayed,” Tribune reporters for the first time quantified the staggering prevalence of sexual violence against students in a large U.S. school district. Using confidential records, innovative data analysis and sensitive interviews with young people, the team discovered and verified 523 times when police investigated a case of sexual assault or abuse of a child inside a Chicago public school in the last decade. Reporters told the wrenching stories of young victims and uncovered child-protection failures that extended from neighborhood schools to the district's downtown offices and the state capital. For years, media outlets attempted to measure the problem of sexual violence against students by examining the cases of disciplined educators or those convicted of crimes. But those efforts failed to account for cases where students are abused by peers or the adult abuser was not punished. By pursuing crimes against students that were documented in police records, the Tribune shed light on a hidden injustice. The reporting proved to be a catalyst for change, leading to massive reforms by district officials, 12 state reform bills and enforcement efforts by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
  • Two-Hour Diploma

    “Two-Hour Diploma” started with a late-night hotline tip in February of 2018. Ten months later, at the time of this entry, the shock waves it produced continue to reverberate throughout the state of Maryland. Using deep dive, old-fashioned investigative journalism, this series produced results. A Baltimore high school was shut down after Fox45 enrolled an undercover student who received a diploma in two hours. Multiple state investigations were launched leading to other schools being shut down. Lawmakers, including the Governor, promised legislative action in Annapolis when session opens in January. And Fox45 jumped right through the massive loopholes this investigation exposed by opening our own church and school – right under the state’s nose. Two weeks after filing the paperwork, Good News Academy was certified and approved by the Maryland State Department of Education. As all this was unfolding, investigative reporter Chris Papst was sued by a school operator and physical threats were made against Papst and Fox45 for which the police were called. In an effort to stop the investigation, Fox45’s sources were threatened with violence and had their property vandalized. “Two-Hour Diploma” was produced by Project Baltimore, a team of Fox45 journalists committed to a long-term investigation of education in the Baltimore area.
  • Testing the Waters

    "Testing the Waters" is a two-part investigation into concerns of lead contamination in local drinking water on the Alabama Gulf Coast. After an extensive analysis of public records, FOX10 News Investigates found eight water systems across Mobile and Baldwin counties have had testing results above the legal limit for lead content in the last three years. Further, FOX10 News found local public schools were not previously testing for lead content, so we requested to test for them. As a result of our investigation, both Mobile and Baldwin County Public Schools started testing some of its older schools that could be at risk. Moreover, during the course of our investigation, the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) has announced it will help test all public schools over the next three years.
  • School Desegregation Orders

    The highest performing school district in the state of Florida, St. Johns County schools, still has an open desegregation order. I submitted FOI requests with the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and the St. Johns County school district to obtain records and information needed for the story. Records show currently the majority of students in the St. Johns County school district are white but the district is now fully integrated and complies with the federal order. I learned that that the federal government has been inconsistent in its monitoring of the open desegregation orders in Florida. After my story aired, the St. Johns County school district has said they are working with the federal government to have the desegregation order closed.
  • Investigation of charter school operator

    For years, Dr. Michael Sharpe was among the most prominent charter school leaders in Connecticut, collecting millions of dollars from lawmakers eager to embrace school reform, and harboring big plans to expand his already growing empire beyond the state’s borders. Today, that empire has collapsed, following deep and aggressive reporting by a team of Hartford Courant reporters who revealed that Sharpe had a felony conviction for financial fraud, had no doctoral degree despite calling himself “Dr.,” had misused state grant money and had turned his Jumoke Academy charter school into a den of nepotism and financial conflicts of interest. As the stories unfolded, Sharpe and his entire leadership team were forced out, and investigations were launched by the state Department of Education and the FBI, which is currently presenting evidence to a federal grand jury.
  • School Spanking

    StateImpact Florida reporter Sarah Gonzalez dug up school corporal punishment data from the Florida Department of Education and mapped reported instances of school spankings. This revealed corporal punishment was occurring only in Florida’s rural areas. She found 3,661 students were spanked in Florida schools in 2010, and that paddling does not deter students from misbehaving. Students who are paddled once are often re-paddled.
  • Sink or Swim: Mavericks High Schools claim to help trouble students, but questions persist about their quest for profits from taxpayer money

    The investigation reveals that the for-profit charter school Mavericks in Education Florida drive for profit conflicts with the company's mission of helping at-risk kids graduate from high school. Maverick's graduation rates are abysmal, former employees allege its attendance records and grades are falsified, and the schcools receive "incomplete" grades from the Florida Department of Education. Using taxpayer funds, the company is promising thousands of kinds an education that it does not deliver.
  • Rotten to the Core (McKay Scholarship Series)

    The story exposes fraud, mismanagement, and dangerous abuses in Florida's $150-million-a-year scholarship program. The story showed that the Florida Department of Education has almost no oversight over the schools receiving funds.
  • "Allegations of Enrollment Abuses at U. of Phoenix"

    In this series, Marketplace and ProPublica team up to investigate accusations that The University of Phoenix has been lying to potential students, as well as improperly advising students on financial aid options. They found enrollment counselors frequently pressured students to sign up, and also lied to students about "whether their credits" were transferable.