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State Week: School 'Seclusion Rooms', Madigan Confidant Emails Leaked, Race For Senate Preisdent

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Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

This week ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune collaborated on a story that revealed the extent to which Illinois schools are using "seclusion rooms" — essentially solitary confinement — to handle children who cause trouble, mostly in special education classes.

We'll speak with Jodi Cohen, one of the reporters behind that report, which you can read here. The Illinois State Board of Education and Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration responded quickly. You can also read about what went into the year-long investigation and the emotional reactions of people who read the piece.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune and public radio station WBEZ-FM published separate accounts about the fundraising and lobbyist management activities of Mike McClain, a friend and confidant of House Speaker Michael Madigan. McClain was the subject of a federal seach warrant earlier this year. The stories, based on leaked emails, involve involving a “magic Excel sheet” and “Magic Lobbyist List,” and leave unanswered questions about whether and to what degree the speaker was involved in the activities.

Finally, the race to succeed John Cullerton as president of the Illinois Senate seems to be tightening, with published reports putting Democratic Sens. Kimberly Lightford, from Maywood, and Don Harmon, from Oak Park, in the lead.

Sean Crawford hosts with regular panelists Charlie Wheeler and Brian Mackey, and guest Jodi S. Cohen of ProPublica Illinois.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
The former director of the Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) graduate program is Professor Charles N. Wheeler III, a veteran newsman who came to the University of Illinois at Springfield following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.
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