Teen on probation sent to detention center for not completing course work; Oakland Co. executive now asking court to review case

Posted at 9:20 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 14:17:29-04

OAKLAND COUNTY (WXYZ) — An Oakland County teenager who didn't do her online schoolwork was sent to juvenile detention. Propublica, a nonprofit, began the investigation.

"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.

Grace, 15, 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.

"In school the student gets one on one support from teachers and is allowed extra time to complete assignments because of add 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, 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.

Grace is the only student locked up that we've heard of.

"The judge in her ruling said this wasn’t punishment this was how Oakland County could best help this girl," Cohen said.

In March, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order that temporarily suspended the confinement of juveniles unless a young person posed a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others.” That order was extended through late May.

"And this student was placed in detention May 14 she remains there today and May 14 the executive order was still there," Cohen said.

In response to the case, Oakland County Executive David Coulter has asked for the Oakland County Circuit Court at Children's Village to review Grace's case.

“I spoke with the Judge this evening. While there are many more details that she is unable to share with me and the public to protect privacy of the minor and their family, I believe a review of this case within her court or during an appellate process is required. It has been a top priority of my administration to keep the young people and employees safe at Children’s Village during the pandemic and that includes limiting residency to immediate safety risks,” Coulter said in a statement.

Due to juvenile records being sealed, 7 Action News could not verify how often cases like Grace's have happened during the pandemic.