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Stories by Matt Masterson

BBB Warns Online ‘Catfishing’ Scams on the Rise

Online dating scams have cost victims in the U.S. and Canada nearly $1 billion over the past three years, according to a new report from the Better Business Bureau. And hundreds of these reports have come from the greater Chicago area.

Chicago Police Officer Killed in Shooting Near Thompson Center

“It’s a difficult day for us, but we will get through it,” an emotional Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Tuesday following the shooting death of 18th District Commander Paul Bauer.

CPS Adjusts Englewood Plan, Will Now Phase Out Students at 3 High Schools

(Chicago Public Schools)

Under a revised plan, students at Hope, Harper and TEAM Englewood high schools will now be allowed to stay at their schools through graduation instead of being forced out this summer.

Attorneys for Brendt Christensen Seek Judge’s Recusal, 2019 Trial Start

Yingying Zhang disappeared on June 9, 2017. (University of Illinois Police Department). Inset: Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff’s Department)

Defense attorneys say they need more than a year to adequately prepare for trial in the case of a Champaign man facing the death penalty in the disappearance and death of a University of Illinois scholar.

CPS Cancels Friday Classes Ahead of Snowstorm

Snow blankets cars and everything else in its way on a Chicago street in January 2014. (Maggie Not Margaret / Flickr)

Before the snow even started to fall Thursday evening, Chicago Public Schools took the rare step of canceling all Friday classes.

Free After 23 Years in Prison, Exonerated Man Files Suit Against City

Nevest Coleman, left, stands with his attorney, Russell Ainsworth. (Chicago Tonight)

Nevest Coleman spent nearly two decades in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Now he’s suing the city of Chicago, claiming he was beaten and coerced into giving a false confession.

Englewood School Closures Could Harm Homeless CPS Students, Advocates Say

About 15,000 Chicago Public Schools students are homeless, and a proposal to close four Englewood high schools would disproportionately harm part of that population, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless says. 

Voting in Jail? New Bill Seeks to Expand Ballot Access for Detainees

A new bill would turn Cook County Jail into a temporary polling site and require that jails across the state provide detainees with voter registration applications.

Chicago Police Forming Joint Task Force to Crack Down on Carjackings

Reports of carjackings rose more than 45 percent in Chicago last year, and through the first weeks of 2018, there have been more than three carjackings reported in the city per day, on average. 

Police: Suspect Using Dating App to Meet, Rob Victims on North Side

Chicago Police are seeking a man they believe is responsible for two knifepoint robberies on the North Side that occurred after the suspect met the victims through a dating app.

Defense Seeking Trial Delay in Case of Missing U. of I. Student

Prosecutors won’t object to continuance in capital case

Yingying Zhang disappeared on June 9, 2017. (University of Illinois Police Department). Inset: Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff’s Department)

Attorneys for Brendt Christensen are hoping to postpone a February trial date after prosecutors announced their intent to seek the death penalty.

State Legislators Override Rauner Veto of School Funding Revisions

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

State legislators override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of a trailer bill to the state’s new evidence-based funding formula. But school districts awaiting new state equity funding will still have to wait to get those dollars, according to one bill sponsor.

Education Equity Group Calls for Community Referendum on NTA Transition Plan

(Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

A local group focused on ending racial and class-based school segregation is asking the Chicago Board of Education to review alternative proposals to CPS’ plan to transform a high-performing Near South Side elementary into a high school.

CTU Members Approve Merger With Charter School Teachers Union

More than two-thirds of CTU voting members cast ballots in favor of merging with the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff. “We've embraced our common struggle to support our workers, our students, their parents and our neighborhoods,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said.

Police: Burglars Disguised as Utility Workers Robbing South Side Homes

The Chicago Police Department is warning South and Near South Side residents of a string of burglaries after men apparently posing as utility workers broke into multiple homes over the past month. 

‘Duerson Act’ Would Ban Tackle Football for Illinois Kids Under Age 12


Nearly seven years after former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson took his own life, a bill bearing his name will aim to prevent the disease that is believed to have led to his suicide.

CPS Board Approves Janice Jackson As New CEO

Janice Jackson was officially appointed Wednesday as the new CEO of Chicago Public Schools. But one of her first decisions is already drawing ethics concerns.

Charter Advocate Blasts Proposed CTU-ChiACTS Merger on Eve of Final Vote

The president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools is again speaking out against a proposed merger between the CTU and the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, which could be finalized next week.

Feds Seeking Death Penalty Against Man Accused in U. of I. Student Death

Yingying Zhang disappeared on June 9, 2017. (University of Illinois Police Department). Inset: Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff’s Department)

In a five-page filing Friday afternoon, U.S. Attorney John Childress says a “sentence of death is justified” against Brendt Christiansen if he is convicted in the death of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang.

CPS Releases Space Utilization Data After Yearlong Gap

Find out how the space is being used at your school

Nearly 230 Chicago Public Schools are underutilized, according to new district data. That’s nearly equal to the number of schools the district says are operating efficiently.

Englewood High School Plan Proving to Be Tough Sell for Some Residents

A rendering of the proposed 1,200-student Englewood high school building. (Chicago Public Schools)

Chicago Public Schools’ plan to build a new $85 million high school in Englewood, and shutter four existing schools, is proving to be a hard sell for several area residents.

ISBE Doubles Budget Request, Seeks $15B to Fund Evidence-Based Model

State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Jan. 11.

Approving a new evidence-based funding model for public education last year was the first step in improving Illinois’ long-broken formula. Now the state has to find a way to pay for it.

Defense Seeks Dismissal, New Venue in Case of Missing U. of I. Student

Potential capital case scheduled for trial next month

Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff's Department)

Attorneys for Brendt Christensen have filed new motions challenging the federal jurisdiction over the potential capital case and seeking to have the top count thrown out.

CPS Adding 65 New Special Education Positions Amid Calls for Reform

As Chicago Public Schools faces a state-led public inquiry into its special education practices, it announces dozens of new positions to bolster its diverse learning supports at more than 50 schools across the city.

Namaste Charter Staff Move to Unionize

(Namaste Charter School / Facebook)

Staf at the McKinley Park-area charter school filed their intent to unionize on Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board.