David DesRoches | Connecticut Public Radio
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David DesRoches

Reporter

David finds and tells stories about education and learning for WNPR radio and its website. He also teaches journalism and media literacy to high school students, and he starts the year with the lesson: “Conflicts of interest: Real or perceived? Both matter.” He thinks he has a sense of humor, and he also finds writing in the third person awkward, but he does it anyway. 

He's won some awards. He's lost some, too. Winning is better, but does it really matter? What matters is the work and its impact. Here are some of his stories that matter: special education; toxic PCBs in schools; hate crime; environmental damages; students with emotional disabilities suspended at high rates; sexual assault cover-up; deaf children and the choices their parents face

He believes that journalism should hold the powerful to account and shed light on misunderstood and underserved populations. Much of his work has focused on people with disabilities. His coverage of systemic civil rights violations by a wealthy public school system against students with disabilities ended in numerous resignations and state legislation to address the flaws exposed. His report on toxic PCBs in aging schools for Reveal led two senators to independently call for an investigation into the EPA. The documentary on deafness, called “Making Sense,” has been described as the most multimedia project in the 40-plus year history of Connecticut Public.

The intersection of race, disability, and behavior is also a topic of interest, as are the various forms of cultural expression, and how they're often mischaracterized and misunderstood.

In addition to education coverage, he's reported on environmental topics, such as human waste and the use of biosolids on farms, and a dangerous publicly-funded pesticide program. He's also reported on sexual assault cases; prosecutorial misconduct during a hate crime trial; the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting-death in Ferguson, Mo. Some of these stories have led to congressional investigations and actual legislation at the state level. His work has appeared on NPR, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, and numerous local and regional newspapers.

Ways to Connect

Aaron Burden / Creative Commons

Connecticut families who choose to home-school their children are not required to show that their kids are actually learning anything. A new report from the state's Office of the Child Advocate found that holes in the system make it hard to track home-schooled kids who are abused and neglected.

David DesRoches / WNPR

New guidelines have been developed by Connecticut's education department that describe the process parents should use for their children to be evaluated for special education services. But concerns are being raised that the new guidelines would make it harder for parents, not easier, than under previous guidance. 

Connecticut State Police

Three top-level employees from the Montville school district have turned themselves in to state police, as the district grapples with allegations that a substitute teacher ran a fight club at the high school. 

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

We know now Russia has interfered with our 2016 presidential election, but did you know that the U.S. has meddled in over 80 elections since World War II according to one Carnegie Mellon study

This hour, we look at how our country has interfered with democratic processes around the world. How do we reconcile our country's actions with the threat facing us today?

Werwin15, Creative Commons

Connecticut's graduation rate is now the highest on record, state officials said Monday. Last year, 87.9 percent of high school seniors graduated. That's about five points higher than the national average. The graduation rate gap between students of color and white students also shrank.

College of DuPage / Creative Commons

A large number of Connecticut high school graduates don't get a college degree within six years of leaving high school. But there's not a lot of information on what they're actually up to.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

The system that oversees private special education schools in Connecticut needs an overhaul, according to a recent state audit. About 3,000 students with severe needs are currently placed in these schools, mostly at the expense of public school districts.

Students in Hartford join the national walkout over gun violence.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that district administrators in Stonington did not respond to a request for comment. In fact, Stonington High School Principal Mark Friese responded to WNPR in an email before the story was published, and he provided his account of the day’s events, which is now included.

Stonington High School junior Caroline Morehouse was excited when she learned that her school would allow students to walkout of class to protest gun violence in a nationwide day of action on March 14. She'd be standing in solidarity with students from Parkland, Florida, who only a month earlier had lost 17 classmates in yet another school shooting.

jasastyle/iStock / Thinkstock

Teachers from across Connecticut convened at the state Capitol on Friday, asking lawmakers to not increase their pension obligations. Teachers call it the "teacher tax,” and they said it’s asking them to fix a system broken by years of under-funding by the state.

Students in Hartford join the national walkout over gun violence.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

School students around Connecticut joined a national school walkout in protest against gun violence Wednesday. But the way the event was handled by school administration varied widely from district to district.

Students rally outside the White House after the  Parkland school shooting.
Lorie Shaull / Creative Commons

Students will be walking out of schools across Connecticut Wednesday to express their concerns about gun violence. School districts around the state have been responding to the effort in different ways. 

Pixabay / Creative Commons

Connecticut has spent over $50 million helping schools beef up security since 2013. Some of that money -- $3.2 million -- has gone to private schools, which are reimbursed at a higher rate than many public schools.

It’s a simple plan: Run. Hide. Fight.

That's what the Department of Homeland Security advises people to do when there’s an active shooter. Police departments also use this method when training school employees, students, and increasingly, aspiring teachers.

Tom Moore's head of school security recently came to him with a suggestion: trauma bags. These are tools the military often uses in battle and include clotting agents to stop massive wounds. Schools are now stocking up.

"That's not something you do lightly," said Moore, superintendent of schools in West Hartford, Conn., a leafy suburb outside the state's capital city. "I want people to understand this is the reality. This is what we have to do."

Moore said it's a sad state he finds himself in — buying items used by armed forces for teachers.

Alberto G./flickr creative commons

Connecticut schools performed about the same as they did last year on the state's accountability system. 

Jim Finley - Principal consultant to the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF).
Chion Wolf / WNPR

A recent Connecticut Supreme Court decision found that the legislature, not the court, is responsible for decisions around funding the state's public schools. But that sparked a debate between an advocate and a lawmaker over where the responsibility actually lays.

David DesRoches / WNPR

Several people are raising questions about video evidence being used against a former Greenwich elected official who’s accused of sexually assaulting a town employee at a nursing home.

mygueart/iStock / Thinkstock

A few years ago, a group of lawyers sued the state, claiming that two students were denied their right to an education because they had been expelled. One of them was a boy of color who moved to another town after he was expelled.

Gerard Chappell working with his dog, Pete, teaching him how to fetch things for a future disabled veteran.
David DesRoches / WNPR

Inside Enfield Correctional Institution there are all the expected security measures: Huge steel doors. Armed guards. Barbed-wire fences. Locked gates. 

David DesRoches / WNPR

KendraLiz Gonzalez had been in cosmetology school for only two months when Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, destroying her school. So she took her twin girls, hopped on a plane, and came to Hartford, where she's staying with her aunt.

David DesRoches / WNPR

KendraLiz González había estado en la escuela de cosmetología por solo dos meses cuando el Huracán María pasó por Puerto Rico, destruyendo su escuela. Así que tomó a sus niñas gemelas, se montó en un avión y regresó a Hartford, en donde se queda con su tía.

Creative Commons

Connecticut is among the worst states in the country when it comes to being financially literate, according to a recent report by Champlain College.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut's Board of Regents are moving forward with a plan to dramatically restructure the state's community colleges. The board approved the proposal on Thursday, which would consolidate the 12 schools into one system with 12 campuses.

The system has been struggling financially for years as state funds have dwindled. The move is expected to save about $28 million dollars annually through staff cuts and resource sharing.

WNPR/David DesRoches

Justin Rosa wasn't doing so great when he first moved to Connecticut from Florida in eighth grade.

"That process alone was very difficult, losing all my friends, having to start over, it was such a hard time for me,” he said. “I was very depressed." 

The once-outgoing kid began to retreat into his own head. And that's when the thoughts began.

"To be alone was such a…  a scary point in my life,” he said. “I thought that I would have committed suicide. And it wasn't until the Choose Love Foundation that everything changed."

David DesRoches / WNPR


On a cold December morning, fifth-grade teams at Simpson-Waverly School in Hartford are making skyscrapers.

mygueart/iStock / Thinkstock

House Republicans are coming under fire for their proposal to tax the cost of tuition for graduate students. Critics fear that if the bill becomes law, only the wealthy would be able to afford to get advanced degrees.

Kevin the turkey hangs out beside the road near the DMV in Old Wethersfield.
David DesRoches / WNPR

Take a drive through Old Wethersfield and he's hard to miss.

Mark Moz / Flickr

Across the country, teachers are being shut out of some housing markets due to their low wages. That's according to a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality. But the outlook in Connecticut is a little better.

Wikimedia Commons

The idea for a gender-neutral bathroom at Three Rivers Community College has been on the table for at least two years by one account, and up to four by others.

David DesRoches / WNPR

As the state prepares to consolidate its community colleges, the system’s president has been fielding some tough questions from faculty and students in public forums.

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