Schools’ toxic water, Sharon McPhail fired, Old Wayne County Building: Your Tuesday morning briefing

Old Wayne County Building. Photo by Steve Neavling.

“Morning Briefing” is a new feature in Motor City Muckraker to keep you informed as we add award-winning reporters to our independent newsroom that soon will be a nonprofit watchdog. Your donations are key to our ability to produce more vigorous, meaningful, nonpartisan journalism at a time when news rooms are cutting back on impactful, investigative stories.

These are the top stories you’re waking up to:

Water in Detroit schools is far more toxic than permitted

Contaminated drinking water in Detroit’s public schools is worse than expected.

One school had more than 54 times the amount of lead permitted under federal law, while another exceeded the copper levels by nearly 30 times, according to a Detroit News’ review of data.

The review comes after the school district reported that 57 buildings had elevated levels of lead or copper in the water.

The schools with the highest levels of lead/Copper were Davis Aerospace, Mason Elementary/Middle and Mark Twain, Bagley Elementary, Brewer, Burton International, Spain Elementary-Middle, Bethune Elementary-Middle, Academy of America, Detroit Lions Academy and Western International High.

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Sharon McPhail fired from charter school but refuses to leave

Former Detroit City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail is refusing leave after she was fired from her job at a beleaguered charter school on Monday.

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McPhil served as chief administrative officer at Bay Mills Community College.

“She’s not cooperating,” Tom Shields, spokesman for the college, told the Free Press. “She is saying Bay Mills has no legal grounds” to fire her. 

The school was fined after McPhail, for a second year, failed to get the proper school administrative certification to work there.

Now, Shields said, “Bay Mills will be seeking a court order to have her removed.”

Restoration of Old Wane County Building is complete

Renovation of the stately, vacant Old Wayne County Building has been completed at a cost of $7 million, Crain’s Detroit Business reports.

The 116-year-old building in downtown Detroit has been closed since 2010, when Wayne County moved its executive employees into the nearby Guardian Building.

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New York-based 600 Randolph SN LLC bought the building in July 2014 for $13.4 million.

The investment group must now find tenants for the building.

Visit our friends at for more information on the Beaux Arts Classism building.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.