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sreeder (34K)

For the past seven months, Mr. Reeder, Small Newspaper Group Springfield bureau chief, has been investigating what happens when teachers go bad in Illinois, and how the state stacks up with others across the nation in dealing with problem teachers.

Employing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests and dozens of interviews, Mr. Reeder compiled data showing that only Virginia has a worse record than Illinois when it comes to disciplining and dismissing teachers. Shockingly, he discovered that even when an Illinois school district manages to fire a tenured teacher, they often find their way back into the classroom, in Illinois or another state.

Of 70 tenured teachers fired in Illinois over the last decade, not a single one lost their teaching certificate.

Mr. Reeder opened the statehouse bureau in 1999 to provide custom statehouse coverage for the Illinois communities served by newspapers owned by the Small family: Kankakee, Ottawa, Moline and Rock Island.

He routinely uses a different approach to statehouse reporting by striving to show the impact of complex legislative issues on ordinary people. He also takes an historical perspective, looking at the effect of past legislative decisions today.

Hidden Violations is a follow-up to Mr. Reeder's multiple-award winning 2005 investigation, The Hidden Costs of Tenure.

Mr. Reeder grew up on a farm near Galesburg and during the past 20 years has held reporting positions with newspapers in the Midwest as well as Texas and Nevada. He received his bachelor's in journalism from Iowa State University and holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

He and his wife, Joan, reside in Springfield and have a daughter, Grace.

He can be contacted at sng@springnet1.com, or at 217-525-8201.