OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Another protest was held overnight to “Free Grace,” the teenager in juvenile detention for violating probation by not completing her online homework during the pandemic.
The case is sparking a conversation about discipline for minors and where to draw that line. The 15-year-old, identified in court by only her middle name, Grace, is a sophomore at Birmingham Groves High School.
It’s where prosecutors say she refused to do her virtual homework while she was on probation, which landed her in juvenile detention since June.
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“I just think that’s ridiculous. A lot of students didn’t do their homework and you don’t see any other people going to jail," said Nia Dawsey, a protestor.
Grace's school, like others in the state, closed it’s doors to in-person learning in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
THIS MORNING: More calls to #FreeGrace, the 15-year-old in juvenile detention for violating probation by failing to complete virtual homework. A group of teen protesters rallied overnight in Oakland County for her release @wxyzdetroit pic.twitter.com/9oLuH7rcdX— Jenn Schanz (@JennSchanzWXYZ) July 30, 2020
Young people protested outside overnight at the Oakland County Farmer’s Market, not far where Grace is in custody at the Oakland County Children’s Village in Waterford.
They say her incarceration only reinforces the school to prison pipeline.
Last week, a judge denied the teen’s request for freedom, stating she’s where she needs to be, and that it was Grace’s mom who repeatedly called the caseworker for help — saying the teen refused to get out of bed and wouldn’t do her work.
Nia Dawsey is a fellow Groves High School student who says students of color, a minority in the district, often face disproportionate penalties for minor offenses.
"When you're coming in and escalating a situation, it makes the student look very guilty. And that's what happens in a lot of situations with students of color, especially Black students," said Dawsey.
As of now, Grace remains in custody Thursday morning. Her attorneys are expecting a written decision to another motion they filed — they’re back in court in September.
They noted that a lot of students have struggled with virtual homework, and that the online work wasn’t technically required.