Extra Extra

Extra Extra Monday: Veterans Affairs backlogs, lost war-zone records and school attendance

The Chicago Tribune
F in attendance for city schools
A Chicago Tribune investigation analyzed internal student-level attendance data from the Chicago Public Schools and found that nearly 32,000 K-8 grade students — or roughly 1 in 8 — missed four weeks or more of class during the 2010-11 year, while the cash-strapped district does little to stem a devastating problem. To assess the total number of missed classroom days per student, the Tribune analyzed both excused and unexcused absences, as well as gaps in enrollment. The paper found striking racial disparities in elementary attendance. Youth with learning and emotional disabilities also missed far more school. The district's official attendance statistics obscure the depth of the problem because officials are required to count a child as absent only if he or she is actively enrolled. 

Center for Investigative Reporting
Accuracy isn’t priority as VA battles disability claims backlog
"A Center for Investigative Reporting review of the VA’s performance data reveals chronic errors – committed in up to 1 in 3 cases – and an emphasis on speed over accuracy that clogs the VA system with appeals, increasing delays for all veterans."

The story is part of CIR's ongoing coverage of veterans' issues, which includes this interactive map of VA backlogs. 

Welcome to IRE's roundup of the weekend’s many enterprise stories from around the country. We'll highlight the document digging, field work and data analysis that made their way into centerpieces in print, broadcast and online from coast to coast.Did we miss something? Email suggestions to web@ire.org.


The Seattle Times
Lost war-zone records add to veterans' pain
"A joint investigation by ProPublica and The Seattle Times has found a widespread lapse in record-keeping from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, leaving some disabled veterans hard-pressed to document their combat injuries, and future military strategists wondering what lessons might have been learned."

Fox5 Atlanta
Woman plunges 8 floors in malfunctioning elevator
"Imagine getting on an elevator and dropping eight floors, crashing into the basement.  It happened to one woman. What started as a routine elevator ride at her government job ended in what she calls a nightmare. Her accident sparked a FOX 5 I-team investigation and the discovery of repeated shut downs and entrapments."

NBC Bay Area
Cargo theft from freight trains costs American consumers billions each year
"This story might sound like something from an old Spaghetti Western or a move from a bandit’s playbook in the mid-19th century, but the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has learned that theft from freight trains traveling the rails is all too real in modern-day America."

The Denver Post
Failed to Death: "System was set up to fail"
"In half of the 72 cases that ended in a child's death since 2007, caseworkers in the state broke at least one rule while investigating alleged abuse or neglect. Their jobs are tough, overwhelming and, at times, a matter of life and death."

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