by Kevin Allman
Last night, Newsweek.com published a major story on the New Orleans charter school movement, concentrating on the lawsuit filed against the Louisiana Department of Education by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The story, by New Orleans investigative reporter Brentin Mock, said expulsion rates for special-needs students in the charter school system are "shockingly high," and asked the question "Does the much-touted academic progress of New Orleans’s post-Katrina charters come in part because special-needs students are being weeded out?".
As of this afternoon, the story has disappeared from the Newsweek site, his author page at Newsweek comes up empty, and Mock, reached by phone, says he doesn't know why: "I don't have any idea," he said, saying he'd last spoken to his editor, Ben Adler, this morning.
Nowhere in the Newsweek story did either Mock or his editors disclose his relationship with the SPLC.
Mock said he saw no conflict of interest in his reportage. "This office is not the office I worked for," he said. "When I did work for them three years ago, it was not in New Orleans. I never covered any issue dealing with education down here at all." (Intelligence Report is published out of the SPLC's Montgomery, Ala. office; the lawsuit in the story was filed by SPLC's local office.) Asked if he had any relationship with the principal characters in the story, Mock said, "I don’t have any relationship with SPLC personally. I'm not on the payroll."
An email to Newsweek's Adler hasn't been returned; we'll update this post if it happens.
Last update: The story has now been reposted with an editor's note.
Update: A screen grab of the first page of the now-scrubbed story below the cut.