Child welfare, Education

Christian boot camps and Alabama loopholes

storyI spent a couple of months researching and interviewing for this piece, which I posted last week.

Former students share harrowing stories of life inside Alabama’s worst religious private school

It ran in The Huntsville Times, Birmingham News and Mobile’s Press-Register this past Sunday.

What touched me the most was interviewing the kids who spent time in this place, listening to them for an hour or more as they worked through the abuse they say they suffered.

It was difficult to hear.

The response to the story has been surprising in its volume. I’ve heard from former students and one former instructor who read the story, confirmed the accounts of the students I quoted, and thanked me for shedding light on what they feel is a very real problem in state law.



A battle for the soul of the schools

Lately I’ve been reporting on the complex web of issues surrounding the 2015-2016 school year in Huntsville City Schools. The biggest component was a piece from last week about the kinds of conversations happening among parents, teachers and school administrators about what’s working and what isn’t in some of our city center schools. Below are PDFs from the paper; here’s the link to the story online and you can find a story package there with further coverage from my colleagues and me.

desegregating huntsville city schools


Desegregation changes roil Huntsville parents

Court-ordered school integration efforts are rare these days.

School desegregation peaked in the late 1980s and federal judges have released hundreds of school districts across the South from court-enforced integration over the past 15 years.

Huntsville City is not one of them.

“We need to be out from under a desegregation order,” said Mary Scott Hunter, a member of the Alabama State Board of Education who has three children at Blossomwood Elementary.

When Huntsville City Schools chose to follow a court-approved desegregation plan that would transfer hundreds of students from predominantly black schools to predominantly white schools in the fall of 2015, the conversations started.

One semester in, they’ve hardly abated. spoke with more than 20 parents, leaders and administrators – all with strong opinions about the state of Huntsville City schools and their future.