For-Profit schools, favored by Trump administration, Education Secretary Betsy Devos, often put earnings ahead of student welfare

A five-month investigation by the Teacher Project, one of the J-School’s postgraduate fellowship programs, found persistent allegations of staff-on-student violence at facilities run by Camelot, a company that runs alternative schools across the country. Thirteen Camelot students have alleged in interviews or documents that they were shoved, beaten, or thrown—assaults almost always referred to as “slamming”—by Camelot staff members in separate incidents that span 10 years and three states.

The situation sheds an important light on the abysmal education options for those students that traditional school districts don't want to serve or can't serve: because they have had discipline problems, been kicked out of traditional schools, or fallen way behind academically.

“About half a million students in the United States attend alternative schools, which are publicly funded but often managed by private, for-profit companies such as Camelot. Camelot’s story illustrates the risk that for-profit schools, which are favored by the Trump administration and new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, may put earnings ahead of student welfare. It also exposes the dismal educational options available to some students that traditional high schools don’t want to serve, because they are disruptive, severely disabled, years behind in school, or have criminal backgrounds,” according to the team’s extensive investigation.

Read the team’s full story on Slate or ProPublica 

The Teacher Project traveled to Lancaster and Reading, PA for reporting, as well as Pensacola FL. The team includes fellows Francesca Berardi, Zoe Kirsch, and Stephen Smiley, as well as editor Sarah Carr. This is the first story in a focus this winter on publishing on equity issues for high school students nationally.

Learn more about the Columbia Journalism School’s Post-Graduate Fellowship Projects.