Kate Wells

Reporter/Producer

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter covering general news for Michigan Radio. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning EditionAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on WNYC, Harvest Public Media, KUT (Austin Public Radio) and in the Texas Tribune.

Kate got her start as an intern with New Hampshire Public Radio before heading out to the Midwest, where she covered the presidential caucuses for Iowa Public Radio and won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for investigative journalism. She joined Michigan Radio in 2012. Kate enjoys hiking, the Muppets, and cake in all forms.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University received 461 reports of sexual misconduct and relationship violence in the 2015-2016 school year.

That’s way up from the previous year, when the school estimates it got about 200 complaints.

So what’s changed? Jessica Norris, MSU’s Title IX coordinator, says there’s just generally more awareness on campus.

Getting a cyber charter was the only way Livingston Classical Academy could finally open its doors.
Andy Simonds/Flickr

Technically, Livingston Classical Academy is a "cyber school."

In reality, though, the only class that will be online this year is health – which parents will be encouraged to participate in for the more “sensitive discussions.”

A few more online classes will be added next year, like career readiness and nutrition.

If you get a call from someone saying they're police, and they've got a warrant for your arrest, don't give them money.
Sam Carpenter/Flickr

It sounds like a pretty obvious scam: you get a phone call, and then another, both claiming to be from the Ann Arbor police. The callers say there’s a warrant out for your arrest from U.S. Customs and Immigration officials. You can pay $3,000 in iTunes gift cards they say, or go to jail.

If you’re an immigrant, or just unfamiliar with how police operate, this can feel very real, says Ann Arbor Detective Lt. Matt Lige.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When you think Hillsdale College, maybe you think private, well-respected school that makes a lot of Top 10 lists for “Most Conservative Schools.”

Now, Hillsdale is using its brand to help launch a public charter school in Michigan, but the school’s founders are trying to prove to its critics that this new school is neither biased, nor religious.

Lamarr Monson is fighting for a new trial in a 1996 murder case
MDOC

A Detroit man imprisoned for a brutal killing in 1996 is fighting for a new trial this week.

Lamarr Monson was convicted of murdering a 12-year-old girl, Christina Brown, who may have been his girlfriend and allegedly sold drugs with him. He confessed, but later said police coerced him.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a news conference to announce $4 million to help reduce a backlog in processing thousands of rape kits. Schuette holds a rape kit box.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Since Detroit discovered some 11,000 untested rape kits in 2009, cities around the country have tackled backlogs of their own. 

Recently arrived refugees in Michigan learn english and job training in the same course
flickr user Steven Depolo / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This isn’t the easiest time to come to Michigan as a refugee.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says he’ll sue to stop Syrian refugees from resettling in his county.

Donald Trump’s son is getting slammed for comparing refugees to skittles, saying if even just a “few” can hurt, you shouldn’t take a “handful.”

But for the refugees who’ve just arrived in Michigan, their biggest struggle is finding work, learning English, and rebuilding their lives in a strange country.

The lawsuits are examples of the how the courts are pulled into campus cases
Wikimedia Commons

Can the court enforce a school’s sanction for sexual assault? And did the University of Michigan deprive a student of his right to due process, when it found him responsible for that assault?

That’s what two separate lawsuits, both filed over the same sexual assault case, are asking this month.

A female student, who’s not being named by Michigan Radio, says she was raped at a frat party back in January.

At first, the school’s investigation ruled in favor of the accused male student. But that decision was overturned by the school’s appeals board.

More than 60 people have been exonerated in Michigan since 1989, according to the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan.
Dave Nakayama/Flickr

There’s a question Dave Moran asks whenever he gives talks about his work at the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic.

"If the state said, ‘We’re going to lock you up for something you didn’t do. We’re going to frame you, or just be sloppy with our job … And then after one year, we’ll announce that we made a mistake and we’ll set you free.’ How much would it take for you to agree to that?

The plaintiffs say older, poor and impoverished people in Flint aren't getting enough water
Flickr user Daniel Orth

Should a judge force the government to deliver bottled water, door to door, to everybody in Flint?

The Flint water crisis has gone to federal court: a group of activists say the state’s efforts really aren’t reaching a lot of people – especially older, sick, or low-income people.

There’s several plaintiffs here:  a group called the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a Flint resident/activist named Melissa Mays.

Former lawmaker Todd Courser
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Todd Courser’s 182-page lawsuit is “like a bad dream that won’t go away,” says State House Speaker Kevin Cotter.

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Courser hasn’t moved on with his life,” Cotter said Monday on Stateside. “But as we saw last week, with the filing of this ridiculous lawsuit, apparently he hasn’t. Unfortunately, additional taxpayer resources will be spent to defend against a very frivolous lawsuit.

Senator Tim Kaine is coming to the University of Michigan on Tuesday
PROjoelrivlin/flickr commons

Senator Tim Kaine is campaigning in Ann Arbor on Tuesday afternoon.

The Democrats' pick for vice president will talk about getting out the vote, especially for younger voters.

Ann Arbor is, of course, pretty liberal leaning, and Kaine will talk to a college crowd at the University of Michigan.

The expanded legislation would protect more people reporting overdoses
Sharyn Morrow / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

People need to be able to report drug overdoses, without being afraid of facing drug possession charges themselves.

That's why lawmakers in Lansing are set to expand the current "Good Samaritan" law this week.

Right now, the law only covers people under 21 -- and even then, only if they're reporting an overdose from prescription drugs.

Those initial protections were a response to the death of a teenager in Southwest Michigan last year, who died of an overdose at a New Year’s Eve party.

The Michigan Marine recruit's suicide came just two weeks after he entered boot camp
Marines on Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Investigations into a Michigan Marine recruit’s suicide reveal he may have been hazed, abused, and possibly targeted for being a Muslim.

Raheel Siddiqui was a young recruit who died in March, just two weeks after arriving at boot camp in South Carolina.  

Three different military investigations found “allegations of recurrent physical and verbal abuse … [and] anomalies and inconsistencies in the policies and procedures responding to suicidal ideation or statements.

One drill sergeant reportedly had a history of abusing Muslim recruits.

More refugees will be settled in the Kalmazoo and Ann Arbor areas, Samaritas says
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

If you live in the Ann Arbor or Kalamazoo areas, you're getting some new neighbors: Syrian refugees.

More and more refugees have been coming into the state this summer as the federal government rushes to meet its yearly goal. And interfaith groups in both the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area and Kalamazoo got together and said, hey, we want to help.

Recent Michigan grads have some of the highest student loan debt on average
KitAy/Flickr / Wikipedia Creative Commons license

Michigan college students who graduated in 2014 had $29,450 in student loan debt on average – the ninth highest in the nation, according to a new study from the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Premature babies can benefit from donated or purchased breast milk
Sarah Hopkins / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Selling or donating human breast milk would be regulated by the state, and distributing “adulterated” breast milk would be a crime, under bills proposed by state Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor.

Detroit City Skyline
user Bernt Rostad / flickr

Some hopeful news for Detroiters frustrated with the city's bus system: the city’s making the biggest expansion to its bus system in 20 years, according to the mayor’s office.

If you've ever tried to take the bus to get to work in Detroit, you know it can run late, and it’s got a stubborn reputation for being unreliable.

The city's hiring 80 new bus drivers and establishing more 24-hour service. New express routes should cut some commutes by 30 minutes each way, according to the city.

The guidelines have been controversial, but the board president expects them to pass this month
user Marlith / Flickr

Transgender students in Michigan should be able to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that fit their gender identity.

That's what the state school board will advise in its finalized guidelines later this month, says board President John Austin.

These guidelines are totally optional for schools – but even so, they’ve been controversial, with a draft version drawing some 13,000 public comments online.

The Mulholland brothers ran an $18 million Ponzi scheme, the AG says
Flickr user Pictures of Money / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Twin brothers who ran an $18 million Ponzi scheme in Michigan are going to prison for up to 20 years.

James and Thomas Mulholland bought real estate, mostly in college towns, that they'd turn into rental houses.

They were doing pretty well, but they hit hard times during the recession.

So they started recruiting new investors, promising big returns and hiding their financial problems. But in reality, the state Attorney General says, they were using that new money to pay back other investors.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Defending Governor Snyder from Flint-related lawsuits and investigations could cost taxpayers up to $3.4 million. But a state lawmaker says public money shouldn't be used to defend him.

Snyder is extending contracts with two private legal firms who've been representing him. He notified the State Administrative Board on Tuesday: 

There were some improvements in test results this year, but the overal picture is still rough.
Alberto G. / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

While several grades made progress in certain subject areas, at least half of Michigan students still scored below “proficient” in every single section of the 2016 state standardized test – that’s math, science, English Language Arts, and social studies.

This is only the second time students have ever taken the M-STEP (Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress) since it was first rolled out in the spring of 2015.

CMU's central campus.
CMU

Police at Central Michigan University say they're cracking down during the school's "Welcome Weekend ."

The Mount Pleasant police issued 341 citations this past weekend, most of them alcohol-related.

They also arrested 34 people over the weekend. That's up significantly from last year.

Officer Jeff Browne says they've done a lot of student outreach and education efforts. Now, he says, they're stepping up enforcement.

The 2016 M-STEP results come out Tuesday morning
flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

How did Michigan students do on the statewide, standardized test this year?

That's what we'll find out Tuesday morning, when the state Department of Education releases the spring 2016 results of the M-STEP.

Senior citizens may be way more tech savvy than you think.
flickr user Jason Howie / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Professor Bill Chopik is here to make you feel really bad about all the times you wanted to run, screaming, from the room after trying to teach your grandparents how to download a photo attachment from an email.

The Michigan State University professor just published a study looking at how nearly 600 seniors (average age 68) feel about the technology they use to communicate, how willing they are to learn new types of technology, and how those responses correlate with their loneliness and overall health.

ER doctors are learning how to identity patients who may be victims of trafficking
Ira Gelb / Creative Commons

So far this year, 133 cases of human trafficking have been reported in Michigan. Another 436 calls and emails referencing human trafficking Michigan have come in to the National Human Trafficking Center.

But spotting these victims can be tough: they’re often isolated, and frequently forced to move from city to city and state to state.

One place experts say they do show up? The emergency room.

If troopers think they have to increase their stop and arrest numbers, the ACLU worries that could mean more poor, black drivers get stopped
Michigan State Police

Michigan State Police may be pulling over more low-income drivers and people of color, because of police quotas.

That’s a concern the ACLU of Michigan describes in a public letter to the MSP today.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Tregan Bradley, a rising senior at University YES Academy in Detroit, had been hearing rumors from his teachers over the summer.

“One of my favorite teachers, she told me that they’re not sure if they’re going to be opening up the high school, like around July or June,” he says. “I called her, I was checking in with her, because I was missing her and stuff.”

The 2016 M-STEP results come out Tuesday morning
flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

This is an unusually slow year for new charter schools, according to the state charter association, which says the seven charters opening this fall are “among the fewest in history.”

“Only six schools opened last year,” the Michigan Association of Public Schools Academies said in its release today. “That was the fewest since 2008, when seven schools opened under the charter cap. (The cap on university-authorized schools was lifted by the Legislature and Governor Snyder in 2011.)”

Syrian refugee children in Jordan enjoy a concert.
CGFome MRE

The pace of refugees resettling in the state has picked up this summer, with more than 1,000 arriving in just the last couple months.

About half those were Syrian, according to the State Department, many of whom are coming to the Detroit area and Southeast Michigan.

In Grand Rapids, meanwhile, Samaritas refugee volunteer coordinator Troy Howley says they’re seeing a big increase in people from Congolese refugee camps.

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