skip to main content

Ann Dornfeld



Ann is a reporter on KUOW's Investigations Team. Previously, she covered education stories for KUOW for a decade, with a focus on investigations into racial and socioeconomic inequities.

Her ongoing series exposing Seattle Public Schools’ lenient discipline of staff who abused students has won investigative reporting awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Education Writers Association. She was also lauded for her years of work covering disparities in the amount of recess and P.E. time students received in low-income schools.

Previously, Ann worked at Alaska Public Radio Network, in Anchorage, and KLCC, in Eugene, Oregon. Her freelance work, focusing on science and environmental issues, has appeared on national outlets including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace and The World.

Ann’s marine and underwater photography has appeared in the American Museum of Natural History and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

She lives with her husband and two children in South Seattle.

Location: Seattle

Languages Spoken: English

Pronouns: she/her

Professional Affiliations: Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors


  • caption: Puget Sound Elementary School is pictured on Friday, April 29, 2022, in Tukwila.

    Legislator calls for fraud audit of state's largest charter school chain

    State Rep. Gerry Pollet has called for fraud and performance audits of Impact Public Schools, Washington’s largest charter school chain, following a KUOW investigation that found scant services for students learning English and a lack of support for students with disabilities.

  • caption: A photo of Charleena Lyles in a memorial.
    KUOW Newsroom

    Inquest begins into police shooting of Charleena Lyles

    An inquest began today into the 2017 Seattle Police killing of Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old with mental illness who was gunned down in front of her children. Lyles' killing sparked ongoing public outrage. The petite mother of four was pregnant when she called police to her apartment to investigate an alleged burglary.

  • caption: Asmeret Habte hugs her 9-year-old daughter, Kisanet Yohannes, while standing for a portrait on Monday, November 29, 2021, outside of their home in Burien. Yohannes was a 4th-grade student at Impact Puget Sound Elementary before she unenrolled several months ago.
    Broken promises

    'Where is the accountability?' for WA's largest charter school chain, ask parents and staff

    Although Washington state's charter schools are granted more flexibility and freedom than other public schools, charter school backers have pledged to keep the schools subject to strict oversight, including annual performance reviews. But that accountability is lacking for the state’s largest charter school chain, Impact Public Schools, staff and parents told KUOW, and the students most affected are also the schools’ most vulnerable.

  • caption: Aurora Pacheco was both a parent and teacher at Impact Public Schools' Tukwila school before she resigned in 2021.

    A KUOW investigation shows area charter schools broke their promises to parents and students

    Charter schools were legalized in Washington state in 2012, and were designed to serve students who often struggle with traditional education in public schools. Frequently, those students come from marginalized communities, including children of color, students with disabilities and refugee families, whose children are in need of English instruction. For the last six months, KUOW reporter Ann Dornfeld has been investigating the largest chain of charter schools in the region: Impact Public Schools. What she’s found is that charter schools are frequently failing to live up to the promises they’ve made to students, leaving staff, students, and parents frustrated.

  • caption: Aurora Pacheco was both a parent and teacher at Impact Public Schools' Tukwila school before she resigned in 2021.
    KUOW Newsroom

    A Seattle-area charter school’s controversial approach to holding students back

    This is the second story in Broken Promises, a series about Impact Public Schools, the largest charter school chain in Washington state. Art Wheeler’s daughter and son were thriving in the fall of their second year at Impact Puget Sound Elementary, a charter school in Tukwila, Washington. Their grades were high, Wheeler said, and they got glowing reports from their teachers. “Your kids are standouts,” he recalled teachers saying. “They’re a pleasure to have in class.” But two months into the school year, in November, 2019, Wheeler said letters arrived from Impact saying his children were failing, and may have to repeat the year — the year that had just begun. Wheeler was confused. “They messed up,” he thought. “This is for somebody else’s kids.”

  • caption: Porsha Fields, right, waits with her son, 4th-grade student Toney Davis, before the first day of school at Wing Luke Elementary School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, along Kenyon Street in Seattle.
    KUOW Newsroom

    Here's what could send Seattle Public Schools back to remote learning

    With record numbers of staff and students staying home due to the omicron variant of Covid-19, parents, staff and students are wondering what it would take for the district to move schools back to online learning as in earlier in the pandemic. Here is what the district has now outlined as some reasons it could shift to remote learning.