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Reporters Win Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Work Exposing Years of Neglect By a Local School Board

Reporters Win Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Work Exposing Years of Neglect By a Local School Board

Reporters Cara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gartner and Michael LaForgia won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for the Tampa Bay Times yesterday. The trio was recognized for their work exposing the failures of the Pinellas County School Board.

"The stories surrounding the Pinellas County school system uncovered violence, high teacher turnover and academic failure at five south St. Petersburg elementary schools,” said The Tampa Bay Times.

The investigation exposed the “greatest concentrated academic failure” in Florida, where 95 percent of black students were failing at both reading and math.

In addition to academic failure, the investigation exposed erratic teacher turnover and high rates of violent behavior among students.

Soon after the stories, titled “Failure Factories,” were published, the community and lawmakers were swift to react and make changes.

"The reports stoked a community discussion on education and race, helped propel a federal civil rights investigation and forced action from government leaders in Tallahassee and Washington,” The Tampa Bay Times said.

The investigation opened up a discussion about race and equality in education, and prompted the U.S. Department of Education to launch its own investigation into "whether the school district systematically discriminates against black children” following a 2007 decision to abandon integration and years of subsequent neglect.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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