Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants parents to have the ultimate choice of where their children go to school – public or private – and taxpayers to make it possible. This week, Reveal examines how DeVos might funnel federal education dollars toward private school tuition, yet leave school choice rules up to the states. Plus, we’ll look at how hundreds of thousands of students in Texas were denied the special education they are guaranteed under federal civil rights law.
To explore more reporting, visit revealnews.org or find us at fb.com/ThisIsReveal, on Twitter @reveal or Instagram @revealnews.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey it is your favorite host in all of pod custom. Now for the rest of the year, I'm gonna be asking you to join us by becoming a member of reveal reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads telling stories that matter for more than three years now reveal has been fighting a lawsuit. That's been jeopardizing our very existence of restoring. We
about an organization called planet aid. Our story raises serious questions about whether international aid was actually reaching the people. It was intended to help and what's more, our story was truthful and we stand by it. We believe it is our duty to fight attacks like this, but fighting a lawsuit comes at a huge costs, are legal fees alone totalled more than seven million dollars? Luckily, we have pro bono legal support to help our in house counsel, but it still takes significant resources, resources that should be used to do more public service journalists. This kind of investigative.
It takes time and it cost money. If you believe in the work we do. The absolute best way to support us is by becoming a member of reveal to do it just text. The word reveal two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven standard data rates apply and you can text stop or cancel at any time.
Also all new members who donate at least five dollars a month. We get our facts, t shirt again just text. The word reveal two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven
and all you who already support our work, I want offer a deep, sincere thanks. We can't do this work without being willing afforded twenty twenty. We have big things plan, so, let's go to some good work together.
From the interview for investigative reporting and t r eggs, this is reveal a maillet. I want to take you back to September two thousand and one just a few weeks after the nine eleven attacks, the country is on edge, the. U S is getting ready to watch its first strike on Afghanistan and no one is sure what will come next.
All of this is on the minds of the people joining a private invitation. Only meeting in Scottsdale Arizona, it's a networking event called the gathering the brings together about four hundred other countries leading christian conservatives each for that year they met at a luxury resort called the Phoenician. A two hundred and fifty acre oasis in this desert city has tennis court a twenty seven whole golf course: Mountain views, a meditation atrium, even a mother of Pearl tiled swimming pool the guest at the gathering sign up for sessions on topics like causing orphans in Africa, effective prayer and maximizing charitable gifts, among them
build speakers was a wealthy married couple from MR queers.
Glad to have taken Betsy the boss with us tonight. Dig in Betsy Divorce he's dead cofounded anyway, her dad invent
The lighted sunrises in cars, Dick and Betsy, or now billionaires- and she, of course, is the secretary of education by listening in
private meeting from sixteen years ago. We start to get a sense of her views at that time. She suggested there.
European culture was undermining the values that christian students brought to public schools. I think what happened in many cases in the last couple of decades is that the schools have impact against more than their heads are able
In fact this was her solution, seems to be find money for families to leave public school divorce had already tried.
Do that miss skin in two thousand, she back to change the state constitution that would have allowed students
attend any school. They wanted private or religious, with taxpayer funded vouchers. Michigan voters
turn that down. The moderator asked of us. Why bother with public schools would not have been easier to simply fund christian private schools and begun with. It is built right, christian, private schools, but factors we can get everything up anyway. Everybody in this room could give everything up any that they had and it wouldn't began to hatch what is currently spends an education every year in this country.
Their talk read that year with Dick Divorce, telling the crowd how Betsy was actively recruiting people to run for public office now
She has a public office herself shields control, billions of dollars a year in federal education money, and she has a chance
make provision of public education. A reality reveals
We shows us how she's working to get it done. Most Americans first met Beth.
Divide us back in January. At her confirmation hearings, this is the hearing
the nomination of Betsy device to be United States Secretary of Education, the room was crowded with journalists and politicians, divorce, whose fifty nine sat in front of a committee of senators she wore a smart blue jacket, her glasses
and nervous smile of this boy. She had a reputation as a long time education activists who
it and millions of dollars to political campaigns. Her supporters called her a visionary helping needy kids. Her opponents said she's out to privatized public education. Let's listen to how Betsy Divorce described herself at a meeting with concern
in February I pride myself on being hall, the mother and grandmother a life partner and perhaps the first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there is no such thing as a free lunch,
That's pretty saucy, but it was her answers at the confirmation hearing that went viral among her critics. That's it of us seem to lack of basic understanding of education policies and laws. Take this exchange with democratic, Senator TIM Kane should all schools that receive if scotch their funding be required to meet the
requirements of the individuals with disabilities and educate. I think that is a matter that best left to the states. This is
then you're going to hear divorce say a lot. Her other big theme, the rights of parents, do, you believe,
parents, should be able to choose the best school there for their child, regardless of their zip or family income may feel, and soon, as president from
the bottom line. Betsy Devos wants parents to pick their kids schools. He wants taxpayers to cover it and she wants feds to let states set this up. However, they want one of her first chance is to bring about some of these changes
came in May morning, Madam Secretary Sir, genuinely my pleasure to welcome here the Sub Committee on Labour, health and human services and education we're looking forward to hearing your testimony. She was speaking before a house committee. Then we cannot allow any apparent to feel their child is trapped in a school that isn't meeting his or her unique needs. So is asking Congress to approve two hundred. Fifty million federal dollars to states could send more kids to private schools. You ve talked a lot about the flexibility of states as being pre eminent, that's democratic, representative, Catherine Clark of Massachusetts. Her gray hair was flipped back her eyes were intent through her red framed glasses and she grilled divorce on whether the education sector
Terry, would let federal money you go to private schools that discriminate. So I want to go back to Indiana two blooming tin in particular, and look at the Lighthouse Christian Academy. Lighthouse is up
I've religious school in Indiana Clarke said it gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in Indiana State, voucher money. She said the schools policy permits rejecting students who are gay by or trans or who come from gay families. If this school, which obviously is approved
discriminate against algae BT students in Indiana. If Indiana applies for this federal funding, we you stand up, that this school be open to all students. Thank you, congresswoman for your question. With regard broadly to school choice, and actually Hind Clark was on the warpath. She interrupted divorced, repeat her question
and made a fist as she made her point. This answer this isn't about pensioners, making choices this about use a federal dollars. Is there any situation we?
You say the Indiana that school cannot discriminate against algae
to students. If you want to receive federal dollars- or would you say the state has the flexibility in this situation? I believe yes or no ten. You too have flexibility in sound together over Amsterdam, via so flexibility for states and choice for parents.
I go back to the the bottom line. Is we believe that parents are the best equipped to make
This is for their children, schooling and education decisions. I am shocked that you cannot come up with one example of discrimination.
Would stand up Clarks question. In the end, both the house would not answer education, question Vote
and both the House and the Senate Education committees voted down the two under
Fifty million dollars of us wanted for school choice, but she
as another way to get federal money to cover private school tuition. We believe that the best and most viable proposal is to try to do a federal education, tax credit,
John shilling he's a long time friend of Betsy Divorce, he's the c o o of the nonprofit. She started the American Federation for children and that education tax credit he's talking about it,
works like this. Instead of paying all your taxes, you can donate some of what you owe to a scholarship fund for students
You wanna, attend private schools. Students
use the scholarship at any kind of private school Christian Muslim, Montessori close to twenty
states already scholarships would be says. Tax credit for would be the easiest way for Congress. If
cover private school tuition, but if you were going to try to do
Voucher or an education savings account? You would probably have to try to do that using in some existing pot of a federal education money. If this is a federal education, tax credit where you have corporate and individual contributions charitable contributions, this is all private money. This is actually a point. People argue about a lot's. Some courts have found that tax credits don't count as public money because the cash never actually gets into the government's hands. Carl Davis is with the Institute
taxation and economic policy. He calls that argument a whole bunch of bunk effect functioning more like a money laundering scheme where
wants to to direct its money into private schools, and it's not able to do so so dense are paying taxpayers.
Actors middle men to help in that redirection of funds,
some conservative groups opposed national tax credit scholarships to that's, because
Don't want any strings attached. Neither does divorce, as we heard that house hearing when Representative Catherine Clark
stir on whether federal money would go to schools that discriminate. You would put the state flexibility over our students. Is that your test, drowning?
I think a hypothetical. In this case it's not a hypothetical. This is a real school. Applying worry that resources are where I was expired, its firmly aside
Wash legal precedent that private schools can get taxpayer funds and still
retain their right to choose students based on ability, behaviour or religious beliefs, but getting kicked out of private school because you're gay is not a hypothetical Salvador.
Other on attended, Cavalry Day School in Savannah Georgia. For six years until
officials learned that he was gay. I can. It was a christian school and I know we had gay people. I condemn those again. It knows that bad because it happened last.
The start of south senior year? He was a football star. He was getting attention from college recruiters on local tv, head coach Mark Stroud, praise
Tim Tebow bollworm runs ball well, and he has really s: love, intangibles, maize is
kitty works hard. Has the affection of esteem nights thousand Midst race kid,
Andy comes from our really messy family situation. He thought football was gonna, be a ticket out and then sell
love the beginning was meeting TIM Tim cells. Boyfriend
TAT was seventeen years old when they met, but he pretended he was older. Tim is older. He's in his mid forties.
Sal and TIM realize. This is a huge age difference, but South points out that Georgia
Ah makers made sixteen the of sexual consent, the two dated four months, and they were discreet in public, but they posted,
photos on social media and rumours started one day a practice. The schools assistant football coach, a good friend of cells, told sow the headmaster, wanted to see him and he wanted to see him right away. The coach said it was about
our love, life Sal was scared. I was afraid you decided to now at the time
I was going. We were attacked her come women single do says he told the truth and he learned the consequences
Remember school officials telling him that if he wanted to stay in school, he'd have to give up football for a month. Do spiritual counselling about being gay and stop seeing TIM
Sal said okay to everything, but he kept seeing TIM, the head master.
James Taylor found out, and he called salad again put it to you
I had to withdraw aid can have experiment is enough. He would spell even so. He made the point you make him again and make me the path. I asked the headmaster for an interview several times, but he never got back to me in a letter that I sent to the school community. There was later posted on line. He said a cherished student had voluntarily withdrawn from school. Due to his decision to stay in a same sex relationship. Taylor wrote that gay relationships are contrary to christian beliefs practised at the school and that the school was concerned about
our age compared to Thames Sal transferred to another private school. He graduated last June, and he immediately moved in with him he's working selling furniture and he is preparing to go to nursing school sow, was forced out of school that uses state tax credits. Scholarships. I wondered if this was common, so I went to see Steve Suits
hanging Harry you come in Steve's home is an old wooden house near downtown Atlanta. He lives and breathe education in the south. He wrote a book on Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black, the former K K, K member who later voted to end duration, segregation.
The: U S, schools, I've been doing and watching and monitoring private school development. The south for forty years, Upstairs Steve Study is packed with photos, paint
Things books, a globe and an enormous hardcover dictionary in two thousand thirteen Steve was
working for the Southern Education Foundation, he studied which private schools in Georgia get state taxpayer funded skull
ships, those schools by and large religious institutions. More than a hundred of those schools had antigay policies, his report called severe
you got. Schools are teaching folks that those people are, and as one too
look says no better than murder
thieves and rape. This makes Steve furious because he remembers,
taught very similar ideas about African Americans,
he was a young white kid going to public school.
The government ought not be in the business of providing
Teachers, Hake was
south. I wanted when
came of age
It's not a south. I'm gonna accept as an adult
and it's not America we should have I six
eight years ago, at that private meeting with other wealthy Christians, Betsy Divorce
book about the role of religion in public education, our desire is to promote a culture which we all live today in ways which will continue to help advance rights. Kingdom,
she's, not saying that any more, at least not publicly, but she is sticking by her other goal: reshaping public education, so parents can send their kids to any school. They want with tax
That story from reveals Emily hairs
Will you what happened when one state made up its own rules about a key civil rights protected by federal education? Was your listening to reveal.
From the centre for investigative reporting in p r eggs. This is reveal a mallet.
Marilla may and her seventeen year old, daughter, Jade, are checking out old yearbooks from their time in Texas. That make all that. So can you, in your whole class together
back in two thousand six jade, was excited about first grade and round rock suburb vast,
we remembers jades big tree mommy, I'm gonna be
the smartest kids school, all Boone.
Was younger, I wanted to be a superhero. I wanted to make savings.
Everybody Buddy being be the best out of everybody back then,
Jade, have been diagnosed with severe attention, deficit, hyperactivity, disorder or adhd. The disorder makes it hard to concentrate and can disrupt pouch. I learned
jeez mom worried that there was even more going on because, while her classmates learn to read till time and count money, Jade struggled rethought, the school should do
or to help Jade read like one on one coaching.
And then, by the end of the year, she was at the bottom. She was performing at the very bottom of her class and I felt so sad for her because it kind of deflated her
dream for that year that she could be the smartest kid and her glass school had my dear, my teacher is like. Would you like to stay in first grade again, then I was like yes immediately
I love that teacher Marie, wasn't so sure she for Jane
This special education, it's been proven to help many
he's with ADHD, like Jade Jade, repeated first grade in Texas. She still struggle
read very saw how it took a toll on her daughter self esteem. She was begging me to homes call her.
Over and over and over
who's, calling herself a dummy just broke. My heart
because I know how smart she is.
Marie was a single mom at the time and felt pretty alone and all this, but she knew
The federal law was on her side, or at least it was supposed to me
law is called the individuals with disabilities Education ACT.
By Congress in eighteen, seventy five
She knew tat if she asked the school detest Jade for special ed. They had to at least considerate school agreed to a meeting and Marie came armed with me
the documents, but by the end of the meeting schooling
this traders said, Jane need extra coaching, put no special ed
time into air and will see if another reading programme will help. Next and second grade things got worse for J
and outside psychiatry is diagnosed with more conditions, anxiety, depression,
learning, disability in Britain expression and asked foreigners in third grade Marie
asked again to test Jade for special Ed and
short story is that it was denied afterwards report the principal aside and said she was willing to do what ever it took. It seems like this was a big game that was being played.
Like something behind the scenes.
What's going on where I needed to know some body or I needed to like, have a code word or something was their big,
game being played the Houston Chronicle investigated, special education,
taxes and why so many children, my jade or denied, even
These services are supposed to be guaranteed by federal law
ice and Sea of Houston. Public media has a story of how investigative reporter Brian rose and thought uncovered what was going on
I rose and all was reporting for the Houston Chronicle in two thousand. Sixteen, when he got a tip from a guy named
Dustin renders dozens, an attorney
with Disability Rights Texas. He says he started to notice.
Something unusual about special education in the state. The calls you used to be about quality of Sir
now, most of whom are about just getting in the door. When dust and tried to get kids tested for special Ed officials
mentioning the same number eight point: five percent. While you know we have to be careful over eight point, five percent
and we never even knew what they were talking about, because, of course, there's nothing.
Law, an idea that suggests that there should be any cabs. You're gonna hear that
now, most of whom are about just getting in the door when dust and tried to get kids tested for special ed officials kept mentioning the same number eight point: five per
It makes sense to Brian, because federal law says there should be no limit. I really believe that it was real one when I first heard about it seemed so crazy destined had already complained to the Texas Education Agency and the? U S department of education. No luck now destined
hoping and investigative reporter could help, but Brian knew it wouldn't be easy, and my big question was: how can we prove a visit?
reason why fuel, kids and unspecified- and what's the impact of that on kids, to answer that first
Brian wanted to crunch the numbers himself. A numbers person and the numbers in this case was so stunning.
Right away. He saw the percentage of kids and special lead in Texas had dropped so much the state
be easy and last in the country. What was strange was that Texas used to be why
The national average, with thirteen percent of students receiving specialised services, now Texas, was one
a low that at eight point, five percent, that same number does
and heard anything about it that way. It doesn't seem like my big of a difference, but
when you remember it's a percentage of five million school children,
in the state of Texas. You realise its hundreds of thousands of kids
Brian started, calling people requesting hundreds of documents and look
old news stories, he came across one hearing
twenty ten we're states,
There's noticed the big drop in special education and asked the Texas Education Agency about it. The state spa,
two percent of five million schoolchildren and was Texas Yours, it's hundreds of thousands of kids, Brian started calling people requesting hundreds of documents and looking at old news stories, he came across one hearing and twenty ten, where state senators noticed the big drop in special education and asked the Texas Education Agency about it. The state special
I'd so did something else. State officials claimed that Texas was just part of a national trend, Brian checks that out to with his own mass, he takes time
It is out of the equation and then NASH.
I'll drop virtually disappears.
The number of historically been referred for. Special education have ass much to Brian. It sounded odd, so did something else. State officials claimed that Texas was just part of a national trend, Brian checks that out to with his own mess, he takes Texas out of the equation, and then national drab virtually disappears. So we saw them
and when he found a reference to that elusive cap. The when he first heard about from his tipster buried in a manual on education
any realises. It's been on the books for twelve years
all along the Texas Education Agency was grading districts on how many kids received special ed and punishing those with high numbers. So now he could prove it that
target denied many families access to special education, which was again
federal law. Next, he needed to find out why eight point five percent. Why eight point five percent? How did the texts of the gateway to come up with that.
James MOM Marilla may had no clue. Texas was pressuring districts to limit special, let enrollment. All she knows is that she has piles of documents showing her daughter, Jade beaded, certain services
the round rock independent School District near Austin, kept refusing to evaluate Jade Marie reads one of those document:
Jades educational needs. An academic struggles can continue to be met sufficiently through general
And interventions at this time that so completely not true Marie's and occupational therapist. So she knows the right held can make a huge,
difference. I was wondering what on earth was going on: why were they dragging their feet? What was their motivation? Why, on.
Would they want to lose the child? So early Brian wanted
figure that, out to he knew that text
This had limited the number of special education students to eight point five percent, but he still
didn't know why. First he called the Texas Education Agency to just plain ass them. They refuse to sit down with him and talk
or even answer questions by email, so Brian started calling dozens of form
employees. He finally finds out who made the change. It was just for people, unelected bureaucrats who worked at the Texas Education Agency. These four people came up with the idea
in virtual secret Brian tracks them down the Google subscriber you called not available. Please leave a message after that.
He leaves a lot of messages. I it's Brian rose and fell with the classical I'm calling again hoping to top.
Few about specified the case, then one day in the summer of twenty sixteen he finally reaches one of those for officials. Cathy Clayton Brian, doesn't have a recording of that call in
Ass, who left the state agency and twenty eleven refuse to talk with him again, but Brien's notes were clear: Clayton confirmed there was a cat.
And she told Brian why they only let eight point five percent of Texas children receive special add you know any time you you're gonna set a go. You kind of move the number in one direction, to kind of get people to move in the direction and when she said that what did that mean to you they counted. You translate that the translation for me was that this eight point five percent was chosen completely arbitrarily. There was no research behind it. There was no effort done to find out what the actual prevalence of disabilities is in the population.
Look at out what the a historical nationwide trends have been no effort at all really, except to say that they wanted to move the number that it was completely arbitrarily and meant to reduce. The number of kids in special Ed
Brian found no discussion about any of that set the state legislature. No discussion of the State Board of Education and no notice to the federal government that Texas was limiting how many children could
Receive special ad,
so why would Texas make this change? The impact of it has been a tremendous amount of money saved by the state I may be very rough. Calculation is that of Texas was at the national average about two hundred. Fifty thousand more students would be getting special ed today. There are not getting specified because special
costs more Brian estimates, Texas saved one and a half billion dollars a year. Just when lawmakers cut the education budget
I almost the same amount by the time she was in second grade common Mary had married at fuller. He actually works in the education field at first he believes jades teachers had her best interests at heart. Those just gonna would expect
the teachers like you do, whatever you can do to make the kids be successful. That's your job as a teacher in you, never waiver from that commitment. Then Jane School didn't give her. The intensive coaching they promised at did his own investigation. When Jade was in fourth grade, he checked out how she was doing
compared to her classmates, and in fact I was again told me from the district at this point in time, and I had everybody's reading scores and I knew Jane had made the least progress of any kid from thirty fourth grade in the district. He asked why he still didn't qualify. It was clear. Like
we'll try staff, but it's not gonna, be special ed. Nor is it going to be one on one, because the only way she get one on one is we place her and said
The lead in more does not gonna. Do that. At that point I was like ok, this is ridiculous. I lost it at that
Ed fired off an email to the superintendent and all
the sudden. They said they would task jade. He didn't know the reason they had to fight so hard for so long. Just to get Jade tested was because of that cap on special add, but other people on the inside of the education system knew what was going on. Brian talked a two hundred of them in his investigation.
Brian heads to a tiny town and South Texas to meet one of those insiders. My name is we Bruce
I do have a lot of knowledge of the school district, because I am an employee of the school district, but first
foremost. I wanna make it clear that I speaking as apparent when Texas began
monitoring special add Willie was
an elementary school principle. The whole district only has about five thousand students
says they were warned. You know we ve always been told we do
but your numbers we can't have kids, especially as we can
We can't go without cap, because districts have to do
connection plans and
course, everybody at as well,
It talks about not only numbers really believes that pressure cap kids out, then it happened to his own son, Marco Marcos Autistic and had received services until twenty. Sixteen, when school administrators kick
Marco out within a month of Brian story in the Houston Chronicle, the? U S, department of Education ordered Texas to stop its policy and launched an investigation. Texas schools are under national scrutiny. The? U S. Department of education wants to know why the state has the lowest rate of special educate
students, but by December the feds showed up in person green everyone report above investigation is welcome to our listening session on special education
CORE and other federal officials wanted to hear from parents about what was happening with their kids. They held listening sessions across taxes like this one in Houston over a hundred parents, teachers and advocates had to address
but on the edge of the city. On a chilly Monday night,
One by one people spoke at the might. First, Richard sunken talked about his grandchild still struggling to read in high school administration.
Says we don't want to give to many accommodations, will enabler how
You, enabling somebody that can't read fifteen years old at rate, will go on
graduated from high school and not be able to read. This is wrong.
The floor is had to fight against the Houston school districts, expensive lawyers, to get her autistic
son services. I have three
to raise my bad
where's, my NBA in my law degree, and if I have this much trouble getting services and competent services for my child. After having been in the system for a dozen years
What are the appearance? He don't have. The resources I have going through
What are they soon? The two hours for the session were
The federal manager Gregg CORE try to close it down
the crowd. Forced the sun,
to continue until everyone had a chance to tell their story.
Marie Le May and her husband, add, didn't get to talk about shade at these sessions. Thus
has by then they move to Pennsylvania. One reason they were so fat up with taxes school
denying jade special Education and Pennsylvania Jane had no problem getting the services she needed now in eleven.
Great. She loves learning about animals in her signs class
shining a light on the shell of the egg to see if it's fertilized or not jeans still receive some services like extra time on tasks but she's caught up to her peers and thinking about college like most teenagers. She just wants to fit in when I was in seventh grade and before seventh grade I
was like in special math classes like for kids, who are slow learners, and I didn't want to be in that class you more cuz. I knew that I was better than that. I worked my butt off to show them. We got back in touch with Jade's old school district.
Round rock to find out why they never gave her the same support the districts, new special education director
Marie Gonzalez insisted it's rare for apparent to request an evaluation and be denied, because again the losses
If anyone has a suspicion of a disability, we're obligated to investigate that to pursue that. That's the federal law, but the round rock special ed rate has dropped since two thousand for just like the rest,
taxes, how would you explain the drop in that numbers? It's never been considered. A cap in our district is not the way we ve approached it at all, but, having been in special education been especial educator,
around rock icy for twenty two years. I've never had anyone say this child in front of us: we're not qualify for special education because we ve run out of seats. It just doesn't work that way. We asked Texas Education official
and the? U S department of Education for interviews as well? They didn't wanna talk after that. Public hearing Texas officials took up the issue
the state education agency eliminated the cap on special education and lawmakers band. Any future limit on those services and
Slovenia, Marie Le May and add fuller, found out what happened by
reading Brian stories. Suddenly everything made sense. It erased that feeling that the whole episode
give me that I was just in hysterical mother and
they had no right to drag us through this mud. I'm sorry
angry about it. I will be angry about it forever diet.
People that were in that meeting that decided that an whoever
signed off on that, should all go to jail
No one at the Texas Education Agency has been charged or help publicly accountable for breaking federal law. Parents are still waiting for the results of the federal, Invest
the thanks, Laura eyes and see a few. Some public media, Brian rose and thought is now report or for the New York Times
school administrators around the country, say they ve quit suspending students for bad behavior, but are they telling the truth? That's next on reveal from the centre for investigative reporting MP. Our eggs.
From the centre for investigative reporting in p r ex this is reveal a lesson for years. Research has shown that african american students are far more likely
get suspended from school than their white peers
them more likely to drop out of school and more likely to get arrested in two thousand fifty
Miami Emmi County public schools made national headlights, the district band out of school suspensions period,
the year Miami Dade reported a drop for more than twenty thousand suspensions two zero. Now based on those numbers, it look like one of the country's largest school districts turned discipline. Issues around overnight
reveal teamed up with a Porter Rowan, more clarity and w L, R N in Miami to look into the data and there's a lot. The numbers leave out.
Give me my blindness.
Move along this is
Starling Lopez recording his first week of ninth grade at Miami Jackson, senior high school this year, starlings a slight kid with curly hair he's quiet and personally, but he loves to him it up on camera records, pranks and slapstick routines
my way and has video blogs. Following on fire drill sent to the lunchroom
now my way to lunch, yet it's them on his phone at home, while as little brothers play,
buildings out otherwise than opposing this. I did isn't I'm while it he says so far. Ninth grade is a big step up over a great like what was it like to go there for the first at better, more
They don't know school you're ready for that last year.
Georgia Jones Layers Middle school starling had what he calls anger issues. You got in trouble a lot so much. He felt like the assistant principles.
Northern Ireland is Tommy. Take over
I have one at all of you boy there how they have on. He told me, that's keep on other times. He'd mouth off the teachers are just walk out of class
and when he did. A startling would often end up a couple of miles away in another classroom. What did you find out about yourself? This is what my immediate county public schools calls a success centre. The programme started in twenty fifteen.
Instead of suspending students and sending them home unsupervised the ideas to help students keep up with their work and get counselling. The jolly that she said she found out from doing the survey that she can make better things
for herself, a startling says some of what he learned the success and are really help to. For example, how do you
I'd be treated, and then you gotta run a whole page or like how you wanna be treated. How you don't want me to do stuff
but a storylines, mom, Joscelyn Guerrero, says there are also times when a startling just got sent home. When that happened, she get an automated call from the school district. Look at them all
no less offended email I am. I can neither will sing to put right dear. How is it that they can suspend your kid and
you'll get a call saying he was absent for three days. She asks Hayden Dallas
is the father of another Miami Middle School, or he says the same thing happened to his daughter last year and seventh grade. She called him after she got in a fight with another student. She said daddy hurry up. She was crying over.
In school. I so western on, what's gonna, please come and go, but they suspended. In me, we got two Hayden went in to talk with school administrators disposed to Miss Eyre. Your daughter suspended for ten days affected today.
She won't be back until a certain day. Hayden says the school
didn't give him anything in writing which is required by state law. I told them. The district had banned system,
more than a year earlier. No one has
mention that to me
then no sudden not supposed to get suspended anymore. Never never, never, never! An ample Shaw!
motionless perish. I dont know if either of the school principle didn't return, call seeking comment.
Even says his daughter served to ten day out of school suspensions that didn't get recorded. That way in school records, missing
many days in a row gets counted as excessive absences the year. The nose
Suspension rule went into effect the number of excessive absences skyrocketed district wide from about thirty three thousand too well. Over fifty thousand, I asked district administrators how to explain such a big jump in an email spokesperson. Speculated principles could be doing a better job reporting attendants, but the pattern is also consistent with what
parents, teachers and students, at more than a half dozen schools, told me that kids are being sent home for Miss behaviour without being marked suspended,
There was another big James in the districts discipline data the same year. They ban suspensions. This is from a video posted on you to its effects.
At the entrance of a local high school
More girls are rolling around on the concrete throwing punches. While a security guard calls for backups. Three different students are recording with their smartphones. It goes on for about four
second and then adults are able to pull the girls part that video was uploaded June. Seventh, twenty sixty right around the end of the school year. According
data from the State Department of education. This would have been. One of only two fights staff had to break up at my Emmy Southbridge High School that year the year before the scene,
Cool reported more than seventy fights, and if you look at the data across the school district, you start to see a pattern. Brownsville middle school went from a hundred need fights to zero Cutler bag. Seventy seventy zero Madison Middle School reported
sites, even though one fight at the school made the nightly Newts Madison Middle School student beaten up so badly by classmates here to go to the hospital.
Mother says he has a bro
jaw and remember. Starling. The video blogger. His school went from reporting forty fights to zero. Looked at a
I thought I did a lot of fights
Starling says he is a hard time. Imagining is middle school without the Fights Robert Malone was
one of the starlings favorite teachers at the school he's been irregular substitute there. For years, in the last year, suspensions were allowed. The school suspended close to forty percent of student body. I asked Robert if things at improved since then now it's this a manageable
say that with really hesitation, because you know, if you see what matters will as you light, while this man's will, but they date they try. But it is, is, is a struggle Overall Robert says a startling school just didn't have a good system for managing discipline. School staff were reluctant to go on the record, but I spoke to teachers at four different schools who shared similar stories. Paperwork gets backed up school. Sometimes don't have anybody to supervise students who get kicked out of Class Robert says all this makes it hard to teach the pitch. It was the big picture. The big pitches haven't thirty key at twenty five to thirty Kazan, Yo Classroom and having them to learn, and if you get four five castle, I refer them as double has been. A disruption became schools that have felt the impact of my immediate policy changes. The most are largely schools with a high concentration of poverty and all the challenges that brings students who didn't get enough sleep stew.
Who had to move a lot students who have grown up with apparent iron bars or in a neighborhood wrecked by gun violence to really make a dent in all that Robert says, you need to have more committed councillors. You, finally to have by a couple of tariff, is on site and instead of sending kids to success centres off site Roberts, as the district should work to improve the way discipline is handled inside schools whatever go them, as this is essential, is that changing behaviour in clearly it'll appear to be? The district has said from the start that the big drop in suspensions shows their programmes are working. Alberto Carvalho is the school superintendent. Here is speaking to the Miami Harold at a toil Borg last spring. The data is compelling, so we went from dozens of thousands of students being suspended annually to First year forty five hundred students being referred
the successors and zero suspensions. Miami Dade wasn't the first district to try something like this. Five years ago, a school district outside Seattle all pylon try
to get the zero out of school suspensions, except in cases that endanger students, are staffed, highlights superintend
Susan Enfield is the one who initiated the change. I think it ended up being a lot bigger and harder than folks had anticipated what it meant and fields, as was changing the basic relationships between adults and kids in a school. I actually had a middle and a high school student come in who had been suspended multiple times and as they were talking about the multiple times they were suspended,
I kept waiting to see if any of the adults in the room would ask the one question that really needed to be asked, and finally I realized, but one which can ask it. So I raised my hand and said at any point during the months and years that you ve been experiencing. This did any helpful to your school. Ask you why? Why are you upset and the answer from both of them was now.
Highlights spent a year holding community meetings in doing planning sessions with a group of forty principles and teachers. They hired more staff and set up something like my immediate success centres inside each middle and high school, but there were still lots of problems, principles in an effort to bring their numbers down in some cases or just sending kids home and not calling it a suspension to their numbers would look at which is actually kind of illegal and unethical. So, in more than one occasion, I've had to get in front of principles and say: look you guys. I am not interested in fake data. I am not interested in artificially low numbers
in Miami Dade Schools, the number of fights reported went for more than five thousand two three hundred in a single year spokeswoman explained that drop in an email. By saying the district had been reporting, some fights they didn't need to. What does that mean? The district started differentiate.
Between minor and major fights. If a fight stops when an adult says, knock it off, that's a minor fight, those don't give reported publicly. If it takes an adult getting physically involved or somebody's hurt, that's a major fight. They would have to give up
according to the state historically about twenty eight years of fight is a fight, is a fight. That's my immediate school board. Member Steve Gallant he's a former teacher and school.
And he says he doesn't remember many fights that adults could break up just by telling students to stop my experience of physical out occasion between two young people that requires physical intervention. Gallon says it's hard to take. The numbers at face value neighbouring Brower County is a much smaller,
we'll district, but State data showed nine times as many fights as in Miami date that I think it is something that quite rightly raises more questions than it does provide answers. Orders on equipment on your mind,
Does this data reflect the reality of what's happening in the schools? He's not convinced it does, and the thing is if kids are still being sent home unsupervised and the district doesn't know about it, it's not gonna. Stop
in the schools, he's not convinced it does, and the thing is if kids are still being sent home unsupervised and the district doesn't know about it, it's not gonna stop. Miami has been trying to address discipline and other ways to they hired.
That story from for Rowan, more Gerety, the Miami deed, school district, continues to say out of school. Suspensions have dropped zero
The fights are becoming more and more rate
would fight or school grounds
showing up on
for more of our education coverage. Go to reveal news that work. We ve got an in depth. Look at how companies leverage loans to make money off of public schools.
The show was edited by Suzanne Reber and Debra George Emily Harris was a lead producer. Thanks to our partners on today show
public Radio Station, W L are in Miami Houston, public media and the Houston. Chronic Bruce Wilson provide a researcher.
I sound designer and engineer is Jim Briggs. Here help this week from rum teen era, Blooey Catherine
no and catch Amy, Pasok,
turn, chief executive produces Kevin Sullivan. See music is by come a rattle lightning support for reveals provided by the Raven David Logan Foundation. The Ford Foundation that John D in cash
Team of foundation, the John S in teams are made foundation. The highs
Simons Foundation and the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation reveal is a co production of the centre for investigative reporting and p r ex I'm Alison and remember. There is always more to the store.
These are last few shows of the year and let me tell you in twenty twenty we are bringing the fire launching some of our most ambitious projects we ve ever done. I can wait for you to hear them reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads
telling stories that matter and this kind of investigative journalism. Well, it takes time and it costs money. These are the final weeks
bar end of the year membership campaign. We depend on listeners like you to help make this work possible to support us just text. The word reveal two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven state of data rates apply and you can take stop or cancel at any time again. Just texted
I'll do for seven, four, seven, four, seven, let's go! Do some good work together.
Transcript generated on 2019-12-21.