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 "school" ...

  • University of Utah Student Killed; Who Is Murder Suspect Ayoola Ajayi?

    Twelve days after the disappearance of University of Utah student, Mackenzie Lueck this summer, and following an exhaustive investigation by law enforcement, police arrested and formally charged the suspect in her death, Ayoola Adisa Ajayi. Ajayi faces four charges in connection to Lueck’s violent murder, including aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping. KSL Investigators knew Ajayi was the person of interest in this case because he owned the small property in Salt Lake where multiple search warrants were executed in the case prior to his arrest. Before authorities released his name to the public, KSL Investigators worked to learn everything they could about the 31-year-old immigrant, originally from Africa, so we could break the investigation as soon as the suspect’s name was released. Although much of a person’s immigration status is private information, representatives with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Ajayi is a lawful legal resident and he was at the time of his arrest. However, the KSL Investigators exposed how he came to this country and revealed possible oversight by Utah State University and the federal government when he dropped out of school a number of times and was posting online about seeking to find a wife to keep his citizenship status.
  • A Dangerous Delay

    In November 2018, Olivia Paregol’s father frantically called the University of Maryland from the intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The 18-year-old freshman, who had lived in a mold-infested dorm, was fighting for her life and doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Was there anything else on campus making students sick? The director of the student health center knew of severe cases of adenovirus on campus but the public had no clue. Less than a week later, Olivia was dead from the virus and the outbreak would sicken dozens of students. It was only after her death that school officials informed the campus about the virus. Ian Paregol had more questions than answers: How long had the university known? Why didn’t they tell Olivia or other students when they showed up sick at the student health center? Washington Post reporters Jenn Abelson, Amy Brittain and Sarah Larimer interviewed more than 100 people and obtained thousands of pages of medical records, hundreds of emails, text messages, voicemails and other documents to reconstruct the events that led to Olivia’s death and threatened the health and safety of thousands of students at the University of Maryland campus. College officials said it would cost $63,000 to disclose internal emails about the outbreak, so reporters obtained many of those records from state and county agencies. In May, the Washington Post published “A Dangerous Delay,” a detailed investigation examining the outbreak of mold and adenovirus at the University of Maryland. The reporters revealed that the school waited 18 days to inform students about the virus and officials discussed — but decided against — notifying students with compromised immune systems, like Olivia, and those living in mold-infested dorms.
  • "Healthy Holly" and University of Maryland Medical System Investigation

    The “Healthy Holly” scandal began with a suggestion from a source, a state legislator who told Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater she thought there might be some irregular contracting practices going on at the University of Maryland Medical System. Broadwater, busy covering the General Assembly session, filed a public records request. The documents showed that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and other members of the hospital network’s board of directors had no-bid contracts with the medical system -- though the extent of those contracts, especially Pugh's, were not fully described. Broadwater's story -- written quickly as a daily as soon as he received the documents -- was breaking news that got the attention of Maryland's political establishment: University of Maryland Medical System pays members of volunteer board hundreds of thousands in business deals. Immediately, Broadwater and other Baltimore Sun reporters followed their instincts and tips that were coming in -- including that Pugh had failed to print many of the books she’d been paid to produce, while thousands of others were sitting unread in a Baltimore school system warehouse. Meanwhile, Sun reporters pulled ethics forms, poured over tax records, filed public information requests and worked sources, breaking story after story that exposed a widening scandal that rocked the state of Maryland, perhaps more than any other series of articles in decades. Their work led to the resignation of the mayor, the UMMS CEO and other top officials, including every member of the medical system's board of directors.
  • Tainted Water

    Canadians have every reason to believe that the water that runs from their taps is beyond reproach: abundant, clean and safe. But the “Tainted Water” investigation, an unprecedented national collaboration of universities and news organizations, exposed the risks faced by millions of Canadians whose drinking water contains elevated levels of lead, a powerful, insidious neurotoxin, and other contaminants. Coordinated by the staff at the Institute for Investigative Journalism (IIJ), “Tainted Water” is the largest project of its kind in Canadian history, and possibly the largest student-led project worldwide. The consortium brought together more than 120 journalists, student journalists and faculty members from nine post-secondary institutions and six news organizations and their bureaus over a period of 18 months to report the series. Journalism students and reporters combined their findings and produced local, regional and national investigative features, released as a series of print, digital and TV stories, making international headlines.
  • What Transparency Looks Like

    Baltimore City Public Schools spends nearly $16,000 per student, per year, making it the third most funded among America’s 100 largest (Source: U.S. Census). But federal data (NAEP) ranks Baltimore schools as the third lowest performing. In 2017, Fox45 spoke with multiple sources who described a system-wide culture of pushing students through at any cost.
  • School Violence

    A young woman sexually assaulted, a grade-nine student “jumped” from behind, kicked in the head and left unconscious, another beaten in the hallway while students watched and recorded on their phones, Indigenous elementary students chased and in fear, a black student repeatedly attacked, called names and physically assaulted. All of these students bravely came forward, seeking help from those who are supposed to protect them - their teachers, principals and coaches. School should feel safe but for these students and thousands of others, school didn't feel safe anymore. Gaining the trust of these young people and telling their stories in a meaningful, empowering way became our goal. CBC’s months-long investigation also took a data-driven approach to document what many called a rise of violence in Canada’s schools. We gave a voice to more than 4,000 students through a groundbreaking survey while documenting a shocking lack of reporting, countrywide.
  • Unsolved: The Devil You Know

    The body of Fr. Alfred Kunz, his throat slit, was found on the floor of St. Michael School in Dane, Wisconsin, on March 4, 1998. Twenty years later, the murder remains unsolved. Kunz was a conservative cleric and exorcist who clung to the Latin Mass and preached of a vengeful God. Some believed his death was linked to his battle against evil. Others believed his all-too-human flaws were to blame. The murder has never been solved, largely because police spent decades going after the wrong man, teacher Brian Jackson, our investigation found. Police never impounded Jackson’s car or searched it for trace evidence. Within hours of the murder, he was able to drive it out of the school parking lot. One detective who worked on the case for years, Kevin Hughes, set his sights on Jackson and refused to glance in any other direction. Ten years ago, Hughes’ lieutenant told reporters police knew who the killer was, but that the district attorney wouldn’t charge him. Their attempts to build a case against Jackson rather than remaining open to other theories may have allowed valuable clues to go unnoticed, the sheriff acknowledged during Barton’s investigation that became Unsolved: The Devil You Know. After about two years, the investigation stalled. Continuity disappeared as the sheriff’s department assigned new detectives to the case every few years. Over the past two decades, five different people have served as lead investigator. The case file consists of thousands of pages — and counting — snapped into 40 three-ring binders. The sheriff can’t name anyone working for the department today who has read them all.
  • An Innocent Man?

    Newsday’s multi-media investigation “An Innocent Man?” was the first to reveal widespread wrongdoing by Suffolk law-enforcement authorities in the 1975 Keith Bush murder conviction, one of the longest-running “innocent man” cases in U.S. history. In a year-long investigation, Newsday reporter Thomas Maier detailed: how police allegedly beat a false confession out of then-17-year-old Bush for the 1975 sex-related murder of schoolmate Sherese Watson; how forensic experts offered flawed evidence about Bush’s guilt and later lost the alleged murder weapon; how the prosecution’s main witness against Bush later recanted and said she made up all of her testimony; how DNA evidence pointing to Bush’s innocence was rejected; and, mostly significantly, how Bush’s trial prosecutor covered-up evidence of another potential suspect, John W. Jones Jr., who placed himself at the murder scene. That evidence about Jones remained a secret and Bush was convicted and sent to prison for 33 years. Newsday’s investigation began in June 2018 and the resulting 15,000-word print report and an accompanying documentary were published together in May 2019. Shortly afterward, a report by the current Suffolk County district attorney concluded that Bush had been wrongly convicted and a judge vacated his sentence – 44 years later. Several follow-ups by Newsday detailed reaction to the Bush case and were reflected in an updated documentary, written by Maier and edited by Newsday owner Patrick Dolan, which was posted on December 31, 2019. Maier’s painstaking work – which involved dozens of interviews and thousands of pages of legal documents – shed light on a tragic incident in the past and helped result in other similar cases receiving a thorough investigation.
  • Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America

    Through insider accounts, Justice Department documents and research in four countries, Citizen 865 chronicles the setbacks, failures and great successes of a small team of federal prosecutors and historians that spent decades working to expose a brutal group of Nazi war criminals living in the United States. In 1990, in a basement archive in Prague, two American historians made a startling discovery: a Nazi roster from 1945 that no Western investigator had ever seen. The long-forgotten document, containing more than 700 names, helped unravel the details behind the most lethal killing operation in World War Two. In the tiny Polish village of Trawniki, the SS set up a school for mass murder and then recruited a roving army of foot soldiers, 5,000 men strong, to help annihilate the Jewish population of occupied Poland. More than 1.7 million Jews were murdered in fewer than 20 months, the span of two Polish summers. After the war, some of these men vanished, making their way to the U.S. and blending into communities across America. Though they participated in some of the most unspeakable crimes of the Holocaust, “Trawniki Men” spent years hiding in plain sight, their secrets intact. In a story spanning seven decades, Citizen 865 details the wartime journeys of two Jewish orphans from occupied Poland who outran the men of Trawniki and settled in the United States, only to learn that some of their one-time captors had followed. A team of prosecutors and historians pursued these men and, up against the forces of time and political opposition, battled to the present day to remove them from U.S. soil.
  • Lessons Lost: How student churn holds back students and schools

    Erin Richards’ reporting launched a massive undertaking by a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to obtain and analyze never-before-released state data that tracked student-by-student movement among Wisconsin schools. The data and reporting illustrated not only the extent of student churn in schools -- something that had never been comprehensively tracked through Wisconsin’s public and private schools that accept students on vouchers, and also not tracked nationally -- but also the causes and consequences through the stories of individual families and schools.