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Judge rules Michigan teen to stay in detention center after not completing online homework

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Posted at 12:00 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 11:00:36-04

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. — A Michigan judge has ruled a 15-year-old girl will stay in a juvenile detention center for violating probation after not completing online coursework.

Grace had gotten into legal trouble last year, and as one of the conditions of her probation, she had to attend school and complete classwork, which her mother tells ProPublica her daughter was doing until the pandemic hit.

ProPublica, a nonprofit publication, brought attention to Grace's story.

"This is a student with disabilities who was struggling with remote learning situation and ended up in detention because of that," said Jodi Cohen, a reporter with ProPublica Chicago.

"In school the student gets one-on-one support from teachers and is allowed extra time to complete assignments because of (ADHD) and other disabilities," Cohen said.

Without that support and the daily structure she was used to, Grace struggled. So she reached out to her special education teacher, "to say she needed help and that one-on-one tutoring began the day after the violation against probation was filed against her," Cohen said.

As you might imagine, nationwide, a lot of students struggled with the sudden transition to online learning. According to ProPublica.org, 15,000 Los Angeles high school students failed to complete their schoolwork. One-third of all the students in Minneapolis Public Schools and a quarter of Chicago Public Schools students didn't finish all their schoolwork.

ProPublica's investigation also found the situation may have been influenced by race in addition to Grace's learning disabilities. Grace is Black. "The case may also reflect, some experts and Grace’s mother believe, systemic racial bias. Grace is Black in a predominantly white community and in a county where a disproportionate percentage of Black youth are involved with the juvenile justice system," the ProPublica investigation stated.

A rally took place before the court hearing Monday. During the hearing, the judge also ruled Grace will undergo therapy. Her next court date is in September.

In response to the case and growing public outcry, Oakland County Executive David Coulter had asked for the Oakland County Circuit Court at Children's Village to review Grace's case.