2015 Investigative Reporting for Print/Online (Medium Staff) Winner

Heather Vogell and Annie Waldman | ProPublica

“Group Homes Hurt Kids, Evade Accountability”

A window into the murky and poorly regulated world of residential schools, which take students with disabilities – and the publicly paid tuition that follows them – when their school districts fail them.

Comments from Judges:

“This series by Vogell was powerful, horrifying and moving. She marries top-notch investigative reporting skills with powerful narrative storytelling to detail the horrific treatment of vulnerable children at a group home. The reader is left incensed that a for-profit company has been able to get away with what one interviewee called “torture” for so long. Vogell dug through decades of news stories, uncovered documents and emails, and used good old-fashioned shoe leather reporting to make a powerful case that these abuses were not isolated incidents but rather systemic occurrences.”

“The families whose experiences are detailed here suffered unimaginable pain. The depths of the betrayals are horrific indeed. But it’s the breadth of the reporting in these stories that really countersinks the nail. Vogell documents so many instances of maltreatment and in such detail that it’s impossible to argue that the abuses she uncovered were anything but systemic. Every bit as compelling is her reporting on the for-profit’s efforts to evade responsibility and to keep its contracts.”

“ProPublica’s team of reporters has again proven its value in investigating those who prey on the most vulnerable in our society.”