2015 Hechinger Prize and Investigative Reporting for Print/Online (Large Staff) Winner

Cara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gartner and Michael Laforgia | Tampa Bay Times

The Tampa Bay Times documents how local leaders in one of Florida’s biggest school districts turned five decent schools into failure factories.

Comments from the Judges:

“An extraordinary series. It masterfully shows the tragic consequences of misguided school district policies, holds public officials accountable in the most thorough and fair-minded way, and still manages to keep the stories of underserved children and families at its core. The data analysis, human stories, and multimedia presentation were all tremendous.”

“Powerful, provocative and troubling. Bravo to this team and the paper for taking an all-too-common story (low achievement in a high-poverty area) and digging past the excuses to reveal a shameful history of indifference and, most troubling, willful neglect. I was awed by the dogged reporting, the sheer volume of interviews and data-crunching, and the courageous analysis that put the blame exactly where it needed to be. But the true brilliance of this work is found in the stories of the children who were robbed of an education they deserved. How many other school districts in America might have the same story to tell?”