Chaos at the School Board: Journalist Nicole Carr discussses her Pro Publica investigative series

Once considered tame, even boring, school board meetings have become culture-war battlegrounds in recent years. On dozens of occasions, tensions have escalated into not just shouting matches and threats but also arrests and criminal charges. 

In a recent investigative series, “Chaos at the School Board,” ProPublica reporter Nicole Carr examines the upheaval at school board meetings across the country.

In the latest SBN Newsmakers program, Nicole Carr takes SBN News Director Steve Lubetkin behind the scenes of her groundbreaking investigative reporting. You can watch the interview in the player below, or subscribe to our streaming channel on the Roku streaming service.

Read the investigation’s reporting here: How School Board Meetings Became Flashpoints for Anger and Chaos — ProPublica

In the first wide-ranging analysis of school board unrest, ProPublica identified nearly 90 incidents at school board meetings in 30 states, including 59 people who were arrested or charged. Almost all the incidents were in suburban districts, and nearly every participant was white.

ProPublica examined hundreds of hours of footage from school board meeting feeds, social media posts and police bodycam videos — that revealed how the meetings became a forum for simmering anger over pandemic restrictions and, soon after, widespread fury over the belief that school boards are infringing on parental rights. In many cases, the heated discourse that started in the meetings spawned sweeping debates that ultimately restricted what could be taught in classrooms and reshaped the school boards themselves.  

About the Guest

Nicole Carr

Nicole Carr focuses on criminal justice and racial inequity for ProPublica’s South unit. She previously served as an investigative reporter for WSB-TV in Atlanta. In addition to covering Georgia’s historic 2020 elections and various aspects of the pandemic, Carr’s work has been rooted in law enforcement and government accountability. In a joint 2020 investigation with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carr examined physical abuse and sexual misconduct incidents in National Guard youth camps. She was also among the first reporters to take an in-depth look at the initial investigation of Reality Winner, the former Georgia-based NSA contractor who’s serving the longest espionage sentence in U.S. history for leaking Russian election interference documents to the press.

Carr is the recipient of four Southeast Regional Emmy awards, including a 2020 Emmy for investigative reporting. She was also awarded a 2012 fellowship with the International Center for Journalists, which afforded her an opportunity to report on North Carolina’s growing agriculture and furniture export business in China.