A 15-year-old from Michigan was incarcerated in May after failing to finish her online schoolwork, according to a report.
The girl, identified as Grace, has been in custody at a Detroit area juvenile detention center for almost two months now after a judge ruled that she violated her probation by not completing online coursework during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, ProPublica reported that Grace has ADHD which she said caused her to feel unmotivated and overwhelmed while online learning.
“Who can even be a good student right now?” said Ricky Watson Jr., executive director of the National Juvenile Justice Network. “Unless there is an urgent need, I don’t understand why you would be sending a kid to any facility right now and taking them away from their families with all that we are dealing with right now.”
Grace, the girl’s middle name, was previously placed on probation after an alleged fight with her mother and for thefts at school, the report said. In the past, police have been called to the family’s home.
The presiding judge of the Oakland County Family Court Division, Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, ruled that Grace was “guilty on failure to submit to any schoolwork and getting up for school.” She also cited Grace as a “threat to (the) community,” the report said.
“She hasn’t fulfilled the expectation with regard to school performance,” Brennan said as she sentenced Grace. “I told her she was on thin ice and I told her that I was going to hold her to the letter, to the order, of the probation.”
According to ProPublica, Grace’s caseworker, Rachel Giroux, allegedly filled a violation of probation to have Grace detained before confirming if the teenager had been meeting her academic requirements. She then emailed Grace’s teacher, Katherine Tarpeh, who said she was “not out of alignment with most of my other students.”
“Let me be clear that this is no one’s fault because we did not see this unprecedented global pandemic coming,” Tarpeh wrote, adding that Grace “has a strong desire to do well.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order temporarily suspending the confinement of juveniles who violate probation unless directed by court order in March. The order also encouraged eliminating any form of detention unless they posed a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others.”
A hearing to review the case is set for September 8 but until then, the judge ordered Grace to remain at Children’s Village juvenile detention center.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Grace’s mother, identified by ProPublica as Charisse. “Every day I go to bed thinking, and wake up thinking, ‘How is this a better situation for her?’”
Just a few days after Grace was handcuffed in the courtroom and sent to the juvenile detention center, Charisse said she received a letter from her daughter.
“I want to change. I want to be a better person,” the letter said, according to ProPublica. “Here I’ve realized how much you care and love me. I’m sorry I took that for granted. Please continue to send me pictures of me and you or just with anyone. I love you mommy and I miss you.”
To further complicate things, Charisse reached out to a reporter by the name of Jodi Cohen who quickly discovered there is no such place as ProPublica Michigan.
Cohen went on to reveal how people can help Grace in this trying time.
– #FreeGrace trending here on Twitter
– a http://Change.org petition
– People wanting to provide financial and legal help, and tutoring, to Grace.”
If you feel led to help, click here to read the full coverage, complete with resources to send assistance to Grace and her family.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
Mamas Uncut is the place for moms online. We cover the latest news around motherhood and parenting, plus entertainment news as well – all with a mom-focused twist. Looking for parenting advice? We have plenty of it, all for moms, from moms. Our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for. We don’t stop there though, we have expert advice on a range of topics, and all of our categories get updated multiple times a day, so if there’s one website for moms you need to bookmark, it’s Mamas Uncut. We cover it all, from the latest and trendiest baby names, in the US and all over the world, to advice for moms in the workplace, or mom to mom advice on balancing it all. Looking for an answer to a specific question you’ve have? Head over to our new answers section, where you can ask questions on a nearly endless amount of topics, and you’ll get answers fast – really fast. Mamas Uncut is more than just the place for moms, it’s the community of moms – all here to help, make friends, and more. Not sure where to start? Take a look at one of our key topic areas like Pregnancy or Relationships – if you’re looking for advice on a specific topic, there’s a pretty good chance that we’ve already written on it (a few times), or that it’s within our answers section. If you don’t have time to read the site every day, we also have a newsletter that you can control how often you want to receive – that way we send all of the must-see content for moms directly to your inbox – it’s that easy. So go ahead and take a look around, ask a question, or just keep reading, we’re glad you’re here.