Week in Review: A cheating scandal, a mother's death and a police shooting


DETROIT – Here’s a look back at some of the biggest local news stories this week on ClickOnDetroit.com.

Cheating scandal rocks Van Buren Public Schools district

Five staffers were placed on leave after a state investigation found students at Savage Elementary school performed so far above the state average on standardized tests that it was deemed suspicious.

In the span of a few months, third-grade math scores improved by about 30 percent, and reading improved by about 23 percent. Fourth grade math scores also went up by about 30 percent, and reading by about 20 percent.

The state describes the 2015 Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress scores results as "highly unlikely due to chance alone," and the scores were invalidated.


Detroit releases inspection reports for some schools

Following weeks of protests by teachers and students over the conditions of some Detroit Public Schools, the city sent in inspectors.

On Monday, a judge denied a temporary restraining order requested by Detroit’s Public Schools that would force teachers to stop the sick-outs. Inspection reports were also released Monday for 11 schools.

The district is required to fix emergency issues immediately and lesser violations within 30 days.

Violations listed in the reports range from damaged ceiling tiles to water-damaged floors, and the presence of insects and rodents in some buildings.


Mother shot to death while picking up son from basketball practice

Erica Garner, 42, died Wednesday evening when she was shot in her vehicle while waiting for her son outside the old 8 Mile Light Guard Armory.

Police said her 11-year-old son got into the car not knowing his mother had been shot. Garner drove for a short distance before getting out of her to try to flag down help. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Two people are in custody for the shooting, 17-year-old Ralph Marshall and 18-year-old Rayvon Smith.

Marshall is charged with felony murder, carjacking and felony firearm. 

Rayvon Smith was arraigned Friday on carjacking, armed robbery, assault with intent to murder, receiving and concealing stolen property and carrying a concealed weapon charges. 

Prosecutors said he and Marshall carjacked a 21-year-old man at gunpoint on Jan. 23.

Dearborn police shoot woman near mall

Janet Wilson was shot in her car by police Wednesday afternoon during rush hour after fleeing from the Fairlane Town Center mall.

State police Lt. Mike Shaw said Wilson, 31, tried to drive away as officers approached her car on a busy road. He said shots were fired because officers feared they would be run over.

An eyewitness described the scene as this, "I watched Dearborn police and Fairlane attempting to stop a vehicle. They had it stopped. They were trying to pull the driver out of the vehicle. The driver refused to get out,” Frank Boyd said. “The vehicle then started to move forward and one of the officers drew his weapon and fired into the front windshield.”

Wilson's death has been ruled a homicide from multiple gunshots, according to the medical examiner.

This is the second fatal shooting Dearborn police have been involved in.

In December, Kevin Matthews was killed by an officer during a struggle in a Detroit neighborhood.


Trial underway for man charged in Armada teen's murder

A jury heard testimony all week from witnesses and investigative experts in the trial for James VanCallis.

VanCallis is accused killing 14-year-old April Millsap in July 2014.

Millsap was walking her dog on the Macomb Orchard Trail before she was attacked. Her body was found a few feet off the trail by a passerby.

Witnesses said that they saw Millsap talking to a man in a black helmet on a motorcycle and gave police a composite sketch.

On Friday, VanCallis' ex-girlfriend took the stand and said, "He was abusive and controlling." She also stated that on the night of the murder he told her he "messed up" and he needed her to "stay by his side."


Flint water crisis continues

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette held a press conference Monday where he discussed the investigation into Flint's ongoing water crisis which will be spearheaded by Todd Flood, a former assistant prosecutor for Wayne County, and Andy Arena, who led Detroit's FBI office from 2007 to 2012.

Gov. Rick Snyder sat down with Local 4's Devin Scillian on Wednesday for a one-on-one about the crisis.

On Thursday, the Michigan Senate unanimously approved $28 million in funding.

New water tests conducted by the EPA and released Friday show lead levels in some homes are too high for filters to handle.

A long list of celebrities have become active in donation efforts including Madonna, Aretha Franklin and Erin Brockovich.

Local 4 has teamed up with NBC News to tell the stories of the "Faces of Flint" in an effort to follow the city's children and how this crisis has affected their lives.