Lee V. Gaines

Lee V. Gaines is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine, Crain’sthe Pacific Standard and the Marshall Project. She also recently completed a fellowship with Chicago non-profit journalism lab, City Bureau. 

Lee has more than six years of experience producing breaking news, magazine-length feature stories and investigative reports on subjects including education, the medical marijuana industry, criminal justice reform, social justice, local and regional politics, in addition to stories about Chicago’s thriving music and arts scene. 

A Rhode Island native, Lee began her career as a staff reporter for GateHouse Media New England covering the Boston suburbs.

Lee reports on education from Illinois Public Media as part of the Illinois Newsroom regional journalism collaborative.

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Prospective undergraduate students applying to the University of Illinois’ three campuses won’t be asked about their criminal histories until after they’ve been admitted.

Lee V. Gaines / Illinois Newsroom

The Illinois Department of Corrections has revised its publication review policy to include a centralized appeal process for incarcerated people who feel they’ve been unfairly denied access to certain reading materials.

Yuliana Quintana worries she won’t succeed in college because she didn’t have access to lab equipment, Advanced Placement classes, and other resources during her high school years.

Wikimedia

Four swastikas were found on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus in the last two weeks. The hate symbols were found drawn or carved in two different residence halls, a library and a bathroom stall in the campus’ foreign languages building.

When Francisco Gamino arrived at Parkland College four years ago, he didn’t know how to balance work and find the time he needed to study.

Lee Gaines / Illinois Public Media

The Illinois Department of Corrections will implement a new publication review policy in October. The change comes after staff at the Danville Correctional Center removed more than 200 books from a college-in-prison program’s library at the facility earlier this year.

Lead Beyond / Flickr / CC-by 2.0

This year, lawmakers approved a slew of new legislation intended to address Illinois’ teacher shortage. But Mark Klaisner, the new president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, said school districts across the state are still struggling to fill open teaching positions.

Lance Pittman arrived at the Danville Correctional Center on Jan. 10 with multiple boxes of books, and bound printouts of articles and book chapters. Pittman coordinates a college in prison program called the Education Justice Project, which offers University of Illinois classes to a select group of men at the Danville prison. 

John Locher / AP

A progressive Jewish organization is hosting a workshop in Champaign on Thursday evening to help educators identify and counteract white nationalism in schools. It’s one of a series of events hosted by Bend the Arc:CU focused on increasing community safety.

JGLSONGS / CC- by 2.0

Beginning next year, Illinois schools will be required to include the positive contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in their history curriculum.

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State lawmakers expressed outrage during a legislative hearing Thursday over the issue of affluent families from Chicago suburbs transferring guardianship of their children to another adult in order to qualify them for need-based financial aid they otherwise wouldn’t receive.

Dianne Gordon, a mom who lives in Champaign, knew something was wrong with her daughter Rory the minute she stepped off the school bus one afternoon in April. 

Carter Staley / Illinois Public Media

Illinois is now the third state to require graduating high school seniors fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as the FAFSA form.

Carter Staley / Illinois Public Media

Illinois is now the third state to require graduating high school seniors fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as the FAFSA form.

Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

A recent study from the University of Illinois found that black middle school students were less likely to be warned by a teacher about misbehavior than their white peers.

Sean Powers / Illinois Public Media

University of Illinois officials say they will take extra steps to vet financial aid applications from students involved in guardianship cases. The decision comes after university officials identified 14 instances in which parents had a student put under the guardianship of a friend or relative so they could qualify for more financial aid.

Steven Brewer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A new state law directs the Illinois Department of Human Services to create an online database with mental health resources that parents and school staff can use to help students.

asalexander / Flickr / CC-by 2.0

The American Civil Liberties Union sent letters to eight Illinois municipalities last week urging them to repeal their panhandling bans. The nonprofit organization warned of legal action if community officials don't heed their warning.

The new director of the Illinois Department of Corrections said during a legislative hearing in Chicago on Monday that the agency plans to revise its policy regarding what books can and cannot enter the prison. 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is cosponsoring legislation that would rollback one of the provisions of the 1994 crime bill. It’s called the Restoring Education and Learning Act— or REAL Act. The bill would restore Pell Grant eligibility to people incarcerated in state and federal prisons.

Illinois lawmakers plan to ask state prison officials why more than 200 books were removed from a colle

Augie Torres said he missed between seven and 10 job interviews when he was released from prison in October 2014 because he was on an electronic monitor that barred him from leaving home except for certain hours three days per week.

Just because someone has four walls around them every night, that doesn’t mean they’re housed. That’s what Paul Hamann believes. He’s the president and CEO of the Night Ministry, a Chicago-based non-profit that provides shelter and healthcare services to the homeless.

Just because someone has four walls around them every night, that doesn’t mean they’re housed. That’s what Paul Hamann believes. He’s the president and CEO of the Night Ministry, a Chicago-based non-profit that provides shelter and healthcare services to the homeless.

 


Johnny Page saw something as a child that no young person should ever see.

“I witnessed my cousin being killed when I was maybe six, seven-years-old,” he said. Page said he was traumatized by the experience. He said he was overcome by a need to protect his family and friends. He became a fighter.  

Melissa Esparza fled her home in west suburban Chicago two years ago. Then 16, she said her parents became physically violent after years of verbal abuse.

 

Last summer, Chantil was forced to leave the townhome she shared with her two daughters and her mother in Des Plaines. (We’re withholding Chantil’s last name to protect her family’s privacy.) Her landlord wanted to sell the building, and Chantil had only about a month to find a new home. Landlords, however, kept turning her down because of her credit, and her income. Chantil makes $12 an hour at a department store.

Nicole Davis said her uncle was diagnosed with late-stage cancer after his release from prison in 2014. He was confined to his home because of an electronic monitoring device strapped to his ankle. He missed many necessary doctor appointments before he died, Davis said. She said that’s because he couldn’t get permission from his parole officer for the medical visits.

Illinois could save millions of dollars on incarceration costs if the federal ban on Pell Grants for inmates was lifted, according to a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice. Pell Grants are awarded to low-income undergraduate students to help them pay for college.

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