Skip to comments.The Michigan Supreme Court Is Reviewing the Case of a Teenager Incarcerated After Not Doing Online Schoolwork During the Pandemic
Posted on 07/17/2020 9:18:38 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
This story is a collaboration between ProPublica Illinois and the Detroit Free Press, and co-published with Bridge Magazine.
Update, July 17, 2020: A Michigan Family Division judge Friday granted a request to review the case of Grace, a 15-year-old sent to juvenile detention for violating probation by not doing her schoolwork, and reconsider her decision to detain the girl. Oakland County judge Mary Ellen Brennan scheduled a hearing for Monday morning to review the progress and engagement of Grace and her mother during the past two months, while the girl has been in detention and then a residential treatment program.
The judge also gave prosecutors until July 24 to respond to a motion from Graces lawyers to reconsider the case. Brennan said the court will then issue a written opinion.
She denied a request to release Grace before the hearing. It is not in (Graces) best interests to interrupt the mental health treatment before receiving a report regarding her progress, according to the order.
Jonathan Biernat, Graces attorney, said in a statement, We remain hopeful that Judge Brennan reconsiders her earlier decision, and releases Grace back into the care of her mother.
The Michigan Supreme Court said Thursday it is reviewing the circumstances of a case involving a 15-year-old girl who has been in detention since mid-May after a judge determined she violated her probation by not doing her online schoolwork during the pandemic.
That news came the same day attorneys for the teenager filed a motion in court seeking an emergency review and reconsideration of her case and more than 200 people formed a car caravan to protest on her behalf outside the Oakland County Courthouse.
In a statement, the state Supreme Courts communications director, John Nevin, said, The State Court Administrative Office is working with the Oakland Circuit Court to examine the processes in this case.
The case, which has drawn national scrutiny, was detailed in a ProPublica Illinois investigation co-published Tuesday with the Detroit Free Press and Bridge Magazine.
The girl, Grace*, was a high school sophomore in Birmingham Public Schools when she was charged with assault and theft last year. She was placed on probation in mid-April and, among other requirements, was to complete her schoolwork. Grace, who has ADHD and receives special education services, struggled with the transition to online learning and fell behind.
Oakland County Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, the presiding judge of the Family Division, found Grace had violated probation by not completing her schoolwork and ordered her to detention. She concluded Grace was a threat to (the) community based on the prior charges of assault and theft.
Grace was detained beginning May 14, when the state was operating under an order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to eliminate any form of detention or residential placement unless a young person posed a substantial and immediate safety risk to others.
In the court filing Thursday, one of Graces attorneys, Jonathan Biernat, wrote that the decision to detain the teenager was contrary to that order because she was detained based on incomplete schoolwork, which hardly presents a risk of harm to either the community, or herself.
The record is entirely devoid of facts to support the actual threat of harm presented by (Grace), Biernat wrote in the motion.
The motion states that Grace has had no issues during the more than two months she has been at the Childrens Village detention center in suburban Detroit, first in secure detention for three weeks and then in a residential treatment program. She has been an exemplary participant and has completed any and all tasks assigned to her in the time allowed.
In a statement, the Oakland County courts Family Division pushed back on criticism of Brennan, saying judges base their decisions on an extensive review of information, including public and non-public documents. The court said Graces assault and theft charges were two of many factors leading to her placement at Childrens Village.
By definition, any public report is incomplete, out of context, and unfair to all concerned, according to the statement. Family court judges have one criterion that must be followed to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child and the family. This decision is not influenced by race, by income, by ethnicity, or any other variable.
The ProPublica Illinois investigation did not rely solely on the publicly available court records, and it reported a history of conflict between the mother and daughter, including the mother calling police to the residence on several occasions. There has been no police contact with the family since the November incidents, records show.
The violation of probation involved only incomplete schoolwork and failure to get up for school, and both the mother and daughter have pleaded with the judge to allow them to be together at home. The judge, in announcing her decision in June to keep Grace at Childrens Village, said she thought the teenager was best served by getting treatment and other services that would set her and her mother on a better path forward.
If this child was such a substantial risk to herself, to others or to the community, that would have been placed on the record and made part of the court file, Biernat said in response to the court statement.
The suggestion that (Grace) is so dangerous she needs to be detained and separated from her mother for months is not supported by the evidence available. If there is additional information that has not been disclosed, I look forward to reviewing that documentation, Biernat added.
A group representing family law attorneys came to Brennans defense. They said the judge, who has been on the bench for 12 years, is a compassionate, fair, thoughtful, and deliberate judge with an excellent judicial demeanor.
About 200 people turned out for a car caravan to protest the girls detention that traveled from Groves High School, which she attended, to the courthouse. Some made signs Black Lives Matter and Free Grace and taped them on their windows. Grace is African-American.
Amber Abboud, a graduate of Groves High School, said many alumni have shown support for Grace on social media.
I came out because there is a clear injustice at hand here. I think a lot of these people who attend these schools, we know there is a racial disparity but we dont talk about it, she said.
From January 2016 through June 2020, about 4,800 juvenile cases were referred to the Oakland County court. Of those, 42% involved Black youth even though only about 15% of the countys youth are Black, according to a ProPublica Illinois analysis of county data.
Beverly Hills resident Joyce Peralta, who has a daughter with ADHD, spoke about the racial disparities and difficulties for children with learning disabilities.
This intersects implicit bias because this would not be happening to a white Birmingham girl who had a little bit of a spat with her mom. Thats what teenage girls do, she said. And it intersects both the racial disparities, it intersects how we dont have services for ADHD kids.
On Thursday afternoon, at a special meeting of the Birmingham Public Schools Board of Education, board members unanimously approved a resolution asking the court to review Graces case and apply restorative justice practices in the best interest of this student. The district had pledged to be flexible with school requirements during the school shutdown. Work was graded on a credit/no-credit system.
No harm should come to (Birmingham Public Schools) students as a result of the sudden shift to online learning caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, according to the resolution. State and federal elected officials, the ACLU of Michigan and others also have called for Graces release from detention.
School board member Adrienne Young, who works in the State Appellate Defender Office, said board members have received about 300 emails from across the country about the case. She thanked supporters for standing up for Grace and apologized to Grace and her family.
*ProPublica is using middle names for the teenager and her mother to protect their identities.
So how much schoolwork is she getting done in jail?
Was just thinking today, how will they enforce attendance and truancy with e learning?
If that was my kid, I’d already be packing up and selling the house. The day I got my kid is the day I’d be seeing Michigan in the rear-view mirror.
with online classes, probably more than she was getting on the outside
She should have said she was protesting.
She is on probation with conditions
How much homework would there be anyway...
Did you not read the article you posted?
The only reason courts got involved was because completing schoolwork and attendance were conditions of her probation. Theft and assault are why she was on probation, and she apparently has a history of violent behavior.
I also guarantee that she’s of a particular demographic, so hell is going to be raised over the fact that she was on probation at all. I know white kids who were put on probation for a lot less than that, so we’ll see what comes of it.
Exactly. She’s probably very upset and misses home.
That doesn’t exactly help with concentration on schoolwork.
exactly- kids all over the nation walked out of schools for days on end ‘protesting for climate change’ when Scoldilocks was screaming “HOW DARE YOU” every minute and a 1/2
The ProPublica Illinois investigation did not rely solely on the publicly available court records, and it reported a history of conflict between the mother and daughter, including the mother calling police to the residence on several occasions
The violation of probation involved only incomplete schoolwork and failure to get up for school
Keep the lazy little criminal b*tch locked up until she learns to comply. Letting her out now probably means she'll steal something and stab an 80 year old.
Feel free to expand on that thought. For whatever problem you’re having with what I posted, you’ll need to narrow that down from the WHOLE ARTICLE.
Seems to me being a kid with a learning disability would trump race, or maybe the two factors would add?
I know what I’d do but I’m doubting that the mother has the will or work-ethic to do what should be done:
1) Strip her bedroom clean of anything “fun”. Pretty much leave her with nothing but clothes and bedding. Then box it all up and put it where she can’t get to it.
2) Set up a computer in a common area of the house with software set up that only allows access to the school’s intranet. This is very easy to do.
3) Physically collect any devices that can connect to the internet OR configure your wi-fi to prevent them from accessing the internet. I have software that allows me this kind of control over my wi-fi. I can shut down access of anything to my home wi-fi system, by device: my daughter’s computer, her tablet, any Roku streaming devices, cell phones, ANYTHING that connects to wi-fi. If you have cable or satellite TV, remove the cable between the box and the TV.
4) Sit her down in front of the computer and tell her that she has the choice of doing her school work or she can sit there and stare at the four walls from 8 AM until bedtime. Let her know that going to another room to use a computer or watch TV is worthless, it’s all disabled.
I had to do options 2, 3, and 4 for a short time with my 12 year old daughter. She blew off schoolwork and I didn’t know it until I started getting e-mails from teachers. Luckily my daughter was a lot easier to bring around and wifey and I have been on telework for a few months, so we were home to actually enforce it. I made sure to tell her a few times, “Want me off your ass? Then do what’s right. That’s a life-lesson there. If you don’t take care of your business, it’s going to be a bad ride when somebody else steps in to do it for you. For me as an adult, that means getting the car repo’d, foreclosure on the house, being fired for screwing off at work, you name it. That is life.”
The biggest problem is that it’s obvious mom has gave up long ago and is too lazy to take any control back. No dad around is a problem you can’t fix (the article has the word “mother” sprinkled generously through the article, the word “dad” or “father” does not appear at all). If she’s the type to just run out of her house and go to a friend’s house (she probably is), mom is probably too slow to catch her and too lazy to even try. Sorry to say, jail may be the only motivator to do what’s right.
Definitely at this point what you would do is what it would take to get this girl back. It’s a shame that this mother doesn’t have the drive and the father isn’t around to back it up. Glad your daughter turned it around because she had parents who cared.
Just think of all the school work getting done in the inner cities while the parents are out looting and rioting
Fake news. She’s not in the klink for not doing homework. She’s in the klink for violating probation.
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