Michigan Judge Refuses To Free Teen Jailed After Skipping Schoolwork

A Michigan judge has refused to release a 15-year-old Black high school student who was incarcerated after failing to complete her online schoolwork, which the judge said violated her probation.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, who denied the motion for early release on Monday, said the teen was benefiting from a residential treatment program and it would be in her best interest to complete it, Michigan Radio reported. 

The teen, identified only by her middle name Grace, has been in juvenile detention at Oakland County’s Children’s Village since mid-May, according to a ProPublica report published last week that sparked local protests and widespread outrage over racial inequity in the education and criminal justice systems. As noted by ProPublica, Grace is a member of a predominantly white community in a county where a disproportionate number of Black youth have been involved with the juvenile justice system. 

Grace told the

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Teen Incarcerated For Failing To Do Online Schoolwork Amid Pandemic

A 15-year-old Black student with special needs was incarcerated because she didn’t finish her schoolwork

On Tuesday, it was reported that a Black teenager in Michigan was sent to a juvenile detention center after a judge discovered she had apparently “violated” probation: 15-year-old “Grace” was incarcerated back in May because she didn’t finish her online schoolwork.

According to ProPublica, the outlet that first reported the case, Grace had been put on probation for stealing and fighting with her mom. The attorneys told the publication that they haven’t heard of a case like Grace’s, specifically that it’s highly unusual to incarcerate a child because they didn’t complete their coursework from home, due to all schools being closed. Additionally, not meeting scholastic requirements has nothing to do with Grace’s previous offenses. Ricky Watson Jr., the executive director of the National Juvenile Justice Network, stated, “Who can even be a good student

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A Black teen didn’t do her online schoolwork during the pandemic. A judge sent her to juvenile detention.

juvenile detention
juvenile detention


This story was originally published by ProPublica.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

This story was co-published with the Detroit Free Press and Bridge Magazine.

  • Grace, 15, was sentenced to juvenile detention in May for not completing her school work, which was deemed a violation of her probation.

  • The Michigan teenager was put on probation in November after stealing a cell phone and getting into an altercation with her mother.

  • Grace, a student with special needs, said she needed “time to adjust” to the virtual education model.

  • In March, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order discouraging the sentencing of young people unless they posed a “substantial and immediate safety risk.”

PONTIAC, Mich. — One afternoon in mid-June, Charisse* drove up to the checkpoint at the Children’s Village juvenile

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