Jess Clark

Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.

Jess graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with her master's in Journalism and Mass Communication. As a graduate student she was lead writer and managing editor for WholeHogNC.org, a special multimedia report on North Carolina’s hog industry from UNC’s award-winning series, "Powering A Nation."  Her broadcast experience comes from working as a reporter and producer for Carolina Connection, a student-produced radio newscast from UNC's School of Journalism and Media, where her work received multiple national awards. She has also interned with the production team for WUNC's "The State of Things" and reported for WCHL on local schools and state policy, among other issues.

When she's not reporting, Jess is singing second soprano in the Choral Society of Durham, searching for taco trucks or dreaming of her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Ways to Connect

Nestled in the Smokies Robbinsville High School is one of the few schools in the state that still uses corporal punishment.
Jess Clark / WUNC

Corporal punishment is still a legal practice in North Carolina schools. But today there are just two districts in the state where educators still inflict pain on students as a form of discipline.

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

Legislators filed  dozens of bills on the first day back since session officially opened, including a proposal to develop a plan to change how the state funds public schools.

Women and their supporters turned out in droves for the Women's March on Raleigh on January 21, 2017.
Jess Clark / WUNC

On Saturday, women and their supporters took to the streets of Washington, DC and other cities around the world to voice their opposition to incoming President Donald Trump. In Raleigh, marching women donned knitted pussyhats, the headwear that has become emblematic of feminist protest.
 

Host Frank Stasio speaks with WUNC reporter Jess Clark about the march in Raleigh and the range of issues protested including xenophobia and House Bill 2.

Tammy Thompson monitors her daughters while they do their school work through North Carolina Virtual Academy.
Jess Clark / WUNC

It looks a lot like Saturday morning at the Thompson household in Johnston County.  Three young girls are in comfy sweats at the breakfast table or kitchen island, each slouched in front of a glowing laptop. But this is 11 a.m. on a Monday. And while the Thompson girls aren’t in a classroom, they are in school.

photo of an apple on top of books
Kate Ter Haar / Creative Commons

It began with a tip from two Kestrel Heights Charter School staff members. They pulled aside Kestrel’s executive director Mark Tracy on his visit to the Durham K-12 charter and told him they were worried two seniors did not have the credits to graduate. That tip set off an internal investigation by Kestrel, which revealed past school administrators had been giving out faulty diplomas for years. Since 2008, 40 percent of Kestrel students received a diploma without meeting the state requirements.

Flickr via Cynthia Ahrens / Flickr

An internal investigation has revealed 40 percent of Kestrel Heights Charter School graduates since 2008 didn't actually have enough credit hours to earn a high school diploma. The Durham charter school released a statement Monday saying there was "a systematic breakdown by the high school principals and counselor for the eight-year period in question."

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Activist groups in Wake County are urging the U.S. Department of Education to take action against what they say are discriminatory disciplinary practices in Wake County Schools. In their letter, the groups have cited a video of a school resource officer slamming a Rolesville High School student to the ground.

An empty supermarket shelf on Thursday, January 5, 2016. Triangle area residents prepared for the first major snowstorm of the season by stocking up on the basics.
Elizabeth Baier / WUNC

Updated 1:20 p.m. Jan. 6, 2017.

The Triangle is bracing for up to eight inches of snow Saturday, with slightly smaller accumulations in the Triad and the Sandhills.

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

 Updated 2:15 p.m. Jan. 6, 2017.

The North Carolina Board of Education has approved the distribution of millions of dollars in teacher bonuses.

The board discussed the allotments at its first meeting of the year Wednesday, and its first with newly-elected State Superintendent Mark Johnson.

Headshot of Roy Cooper
Courtesy of Roy Cooper

Governor Roy Cooper has made cabinet picks for the department of environmental quality and the department of transportation.

The new Democratic governor tapped Michael Regan to lead the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. Regan was most recently the Southeast regional coordinator for the Environmental Defense Fund. Before that, he worked in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under presidents Clinton and Bush from 1998 to 2008.

Updated at 10:45 p.m. Jan. 3, 2017

A Rolesville High School student on Tuesday posted a video to social media of a classmate being slammed to the ground by a police officer.

Black Tip sharks feed on the coast near Cape Lookout.
Shark Attack News

Coastal Carolina officials may not be willing to prepare for climate change until it's too late, according to a new study out of N.C. State and Appalachian State Universities.

Smithfield Foods promised to cut emissions.
humanesociety.org

Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, has promised to slash its carbon emissions.

Sarah Gilbert via Flickr

Researchers at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute have more evidence that children who attend pre-K see better outcomes down the road.

An image of UNC's Old Well
yeungb / Wikipedia Creative Commons

The NCAA has issued a new set of allegations against the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill over the years-long academic fraud scandal.

HB2 opponents
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

North Carolina lawmakers on Wednesday failed to repeal the so-called “bathroom bill” after hours of bitter political debate at the General Assembly in Raleigh.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

This week the General Assembly passed legislation to strip powers from the executive branch. Democratic lawmakers, and hundreds of angry protesters, said this was simply a power grab as a Republican governor is about to be replaced by a Democrat.

WUNC reporters Jeff Tiberii and Jess Clark spent many hours on Jones Street this week covering all the action. They got together in this week's WUNCPolitics Podcast to recap a wild week.

Protesters Jenny Lynch of Apex, left, and Heidi Alcock of Chapel Hill.
Jess Clark / WUNC

The General Assembly building on Jones Street in downtown Raleigh literally shook Friday as protesters reached a boiling point over bills Republican lawmakers had pushed through during a surprise special session.

Despite the protests, lawmakers concluded the session Friday afternoon, passing two bills that curb the powers of incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper.

Protests erupted Thursday at the N.C. General Assembly
Jess Clark / WUNC

Hundreds of protesters swamped the top floor of the General Assembly and interrupted House lawmakers during a special session Wednesday night. They were there to protest the surprise fourth special session called so late in the year by Republicans, as well as legislation that seeks to weaken incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper.

North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State lawmakers will convene for yet another special session Wednesday afternoon. The fourth extra legislative gathering of 2016 follows a two-day effort to pass the Disaster Relief Act, a $201 million dollar funding bill to help victims of hurricane flooding and mountain wildfires.

protesters inside the General Assembly
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

UPDATED Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 7:05 p.m. The state House voted unanimously Tuesday night to pass their version of a disaster relief measure. The bill goes onto the Senate for further debate Wednesday.

stack of money
Flickr user 401(K)2013

North Carolina's economy will grow another two percent next year - on par with growth in 2016, according to a UNC Charlotte economic forecast.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally in Fayetteville, N.C., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.
Gerry Broome / AP

President-elect Donald Trump made a stop in Fayetteville Tuesday night as part of his "thank you" tour. Trump spoke before a crowd of several thousand near Fort Bragg.

Pat McCrory
Catie Ball / WUNC

It took 28 days.

Following weeks of unfounded voter fraud allegations, conspiracy theories that the legislature could intervene in the outcome, and expectations that this race would end up in the courts, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory stood down.

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / Flickr Creative Commons

The ACT will soon offer special accommodations for students still learning the English language.

classroom
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Nineteen of the state's lowest-performing schools are getting nearly $40 million in federal grants starting in January to improve student outcomes. Each school will receive between $690,000 and $3.7 million to put towards improvement plans over the next five years.

Wake County bus driver Auh-murel Wright has worked for the school district 10 years, and sill makes less than a "living wage."
Jess Clark / WUNC

In the parking lot at East Cary Middle School, bus driver Auh-murel Wright walks down the aisle of her bus between rows of empty seats, checking the alarms and the emergency exits. She does this before each trip to make sure her ride is safe. And she knows the exact minute she can expect the first students to climb aboard—2:13 p.m.

Latino residents in Greenville
Jess Clark / WUNC

Reports of racially-motivated harassment continue to pour in across the country after Donald Trump's election as president. One community in North Carolina just held an emergency meeting to try to find solutions to address the harassment Latinos are experiencing there.

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State Lawmakers' 2013 finagling with the Wake County election maps made it possible for high turnover on the largely Democratic school board this election. Voters weighed in on all nine school board offices. But six out of seven running incumbents kept their seats on Tuesday. Three ran unopposed, and three others won handily against their challengers.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. greets supporters as he gives his acceptance speech after winning re-election, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Nell Redmond / AP

Richard Burr, the incumbent candidate for North Carolina's seat on the U.S. Senate, secured a win against challenger Democrat Deborah Ross. Burr won 51 percent of the vote to Ross's 45 percent.

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