Kate Wells | Michigan Radio
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Kate Wells

Reporter

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist and co-host of the Michigan Radio and NPR podcast Believed. The series was widely ranked among the best of the year, drawing millions of downloads and numerous awards. She and co-host Lindsey Smith received the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Judges described their work as "a haunting and multifaceted account of U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s belated arrest and an intimate look at how an army of women – a detective, a prosecutor and survivors – brought down the serial sex offender."

Wells and her family live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

Dozens of parents waited restlessly in the school library for an hour, then two, as the Hanover-Horton school board held a closed door meeting to decide whether to fire the football coach.

Johnnie Stewart, a longtime high school football coach and teacher, was accused this summer of starting a predatory, sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student, some 20 years ago. That student, Angela Sturgill, now has children of her own in the district, and says school administrators first learned about the existence of these allegations back in the fall of 2018, though not the details.

Drew Hays/Unsplash

The birth mom was due in March 2019, but “typically delivers a couple of weeks early,” Tara Lynn Lee told the couple in South Carolina. They knew Lee through her Michigan-based organization, Always Hope Pregnancy and Education Center. In October 2018, Lee set up a phone call with the South Carolina couple, and the woman they believed was considering them to adopt her unborn child.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

The Hanover-Horton School District’s investigation is done, school administrators are “analyzing” it, and a frustrated community is still waiting to see what will happen to a longtime high school football coach accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage student some 20 years ago.

NOAA

Five years after half a million Toledo-area residents were told not to drink or touch their tap water for two days, the same thick green sludge responsible for the 2014 water crisis has now spread across 600 square miles of western Lake Erie.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force

Updated August 9, 2019 at 11:45 am

The ACLU of Michigan and the Michigan Immigrant Right Center is sending letters to 11 county sheriffs and police departments across the state, urging them to stop detaining people for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

children sitting on floor
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Kids in Flint are heading back to school Wednesday, as the district transitions to a year-round calendar.

It’s an increasingly popular model with a mixed track record, but school leaders in Flint say they’ve had some success with the “balanced calendar” already in one of the district’s elementary schools. And it’s worth trying, says Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez, if it can reduce summer brain drain and help instructors reach struggling students sooner. 

Get Budding/Unpslash

If you live in one of 19 communities around the state, Michigan officials would like to help you break into the legal recreational marijuana business; a business that in other places has often been segregated by race and income.

Charles DeLoye/Unsplash

The future for some private colleges will come down to their ability to think “outside the [traditional tuition] box,” says Jayson Boyers, President of Cleary University, a small business school based in Howell.

And for Cleary, that means partnering with private companies to allow the company’s employees, and those employees’ spouses, kids, and even grandkids, a free online education.

close up of Gretchen Whitmer
Photo courtesy of www.senate.mi.gov/whitmer

Last updated Aug 2, 3:14 pm: Governor Gretchen Whitmer appears to support changing state law to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. Her position seems to come as a bit of a surprise, even to immigration advocates.

Whitmer was backstage at the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate Wednesday night in Detroit, when she was approached by a volunteer organizer.

Multi-colored books.
Kimberly Farmer / Unsplash

A new report maps out which neighboring Michigan school districts are the most segregated by race, poverty, and revenue. It comes 45 years after the U.S. Supreme Court told white families in Michigan (and by extension, the nation) if they wanted to avoid mandatory school integration, all they had to do was move to a whiter district.

“As if quarantining students of color, we have forced them into racially dense and underfunded systems, and then built walls around them,” reads the report from EdBuild, an activist group aimed at disrupting “the status quo of illogical and inequitable school funding.”

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

“Angela, thanks for coming out!” one woman shouted at the end of a tense, emotional Hanover-Horton School Board meeting Monday night. 

Feliphe Schiarolli/unsplash.com

Hanover-Horton school officials chose not to remove a teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old student, even as that allegation was investigated for months by the Michigan State Police, because the district’s lawyers told them not to. 

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Michigan college grads are borrowing 42% more on average than they were 10 years ago. Today, your average Michigan student with school loans has about $31,000 in debt, compared to roughly $21,600 a decade earlier.

Ammar Alhaidar

 

“ICE RAIDS STARTED IN DEARBORN,” the social media and Whatsapp messages warned on Monday afternoon. Dearborn residents sent the messages to each other after agents from Homeland Security Investigations visited Hamido, a well-known Middle-Eastern Dearborn restaurant.

The manager, Kassem Rizk, says he wasn’t sure at the time if the agents were from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but he says two officers came in, and one officer asked for employment verification forms.

“He said that he was sweeping the area. He said this was his tenth stop,” Rizk says.

Stewart

“‘I can’t wait until you’re 18,’” Hanover-Horton teacher and football coach Johnnie Stewart told her in the high school gym, “because of all the things he could legally, physically do to me,” the young woman recalls. It was 2015. She was his 16-year-old student.

The former student, who has asked not to be named because the incident happened when she was a minor, says she reported Stewart’s comments to school adminstrators that very day. But Stewart wasn’t suspended or fired. Ultimately, administrators told her it was a “he said, she said” incident, she says.

titikul_b / Adobe Stock

It’s not Camila Trefftz’s job to track this, but she tries to give the best estimates she can: so far this year, she’s says she's probably seen about 12 cases of kids being temporarily placed in Michigan after they were separated from their parents at the southern border.

But if you count the kids separated from relatives overall, not just parents? Then that number skyrockets, Trefftz says. Dozens, definitely. Maybe close to 100? She's not sure. The youngest they’ve seen was four months old. Another is younger than two, she says.

C/O Ben Hershey via Unsplash.com

Two graduates of Hanover-Horton High School’s class of 2000 say it was an “open secret” that Johnnie Stewart, the school’s football coach and physical education teacher, was in a sexual relationship with underage students.

Kate Wells

She looks small in the high-ceilinged lobby, her hair pulled back in a heart-shaped barrette, wearing a sundress and pink ruffled socks. She holds hands with her caseworker, gazing up silently at the security guards as they smile at her, beckoning her through the metal detectors and telling her how pretty she looks.

Michigan State University sign
Michigan State University

Here’s some news you’ve seen before: Michigan State University is launching a new investigation into how its former sports doctor, Larry Nassar, was able to sexually abuse so many patients for decades, despite numerous victims reporting to authorities.

The Hanover-Horton school district says while it was aware police were investigating high school football coach Johnnie Stewart for sexual assault, the district allowed him to keep coaching and teaching as the months-long investigation played out.

Rolf Venema/Flickr

If you’re a woman in the United States, you’re more likely to die from pregnancy-related problems than in any other developed country. Now, researchers are shedding more light on why new moms are at risk, beyond obstetric issues like severe hypertension and hemorrhage.

Downtown Detroit Partnership

Update, Tuesday June 11: A spokeswoman for the SEIU Local 1 chapter says they've still not received a response to the strike vote from SecurAmercia. Still no firm date yet for when the strike might start.

Original post June 10: Last night, security officer Darian Stevens says he had to bike two hours home from work. That’s because he can’t afford a car or an apartment near his job in downtown Detroit.

“We secure billion dollar buildings, and as I’ve found lately, I don’t even make enough to have a home down here,” Stevens says. “Whereas if I did have $15 [an hour] at least and union rights, then I’d be able to pick my own housing freely.”

Belmont Tower at MSU
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Two weeks after she was sexually assaulted in April 2018, a Michigan State University graduate student got an email from a stranger.

work being done under Mackinac bridge
Enbridge

It’s not an F, but it is an I for Incomplete.

That’s the grade a federal judge is giving regulators for approving Enbridge Energy’s emergency response plan for an oil spill from Line 5, the pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

DANIEL WEBER / FLICKR

For $1,000 or more, maybe you too could have been a reserve officer for the Oakley Police Department.

That’s how much it cost to buy into a gun ring being run by former Police Chief Robert Reznick, according to court filings.

Kasey O'Dea

For nearly 15 years, Brianne Randall-Gay has been looking for answers.

Why didn’t the Meridian Township Police believe her in 2004, when she told them Larry Nassar sexually assaulted her under the guise of medical treatment?

Why didn’t they follow typical procedure and send her case to the prosecutor for review? And why were detectives so willing to accept Nassar’s lies, they didn’t even bother running his explanations past another medical expert?

Pixabay

Seven more people have contracted measles in Oakland County, the state health department said Friday morning, bringing the total up to eight. 

This comes just over a week since a visiting Israeli citizen picked up the highly contagious virus in New York and brought it to Michigan.

Health officials are asking anyone showing symptoms not to go to the hospital or their doctor’s office without calling ahead, so they can keep the individual isolated from other patients.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

After two months of trying to negotiate an interview between the Michigan attorney general’s office and former interim MSU President John Engler, things hit the fan on Tuesday.

Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand keeps it simple.

“I’m going to give you just two minutes on why I’m going to win, and then you can ask me any question you want,” Gillibrand told a crowd of about 200 mostly white, suburban Democratic voters in Metro Detroit Monday night.

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