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Judge denies release of teen locked up in missed homework case — and reveals important details about the ruling


The 15-year-old has been in a Michigan juvenile detention center since mid-May

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A Michigan judge on Monday denied the release of a 15-year-old black girl who was reportedly taken into custody after she failed to do online schoolwork during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The teen, who was a sophomore at Groves High School in Birmingham Public Schools, however, had a track record of poor behavior and impulse control, and was actually taken into custody because she was a danger to her own mother.

What are the details?

Oakland County Judge Mary Ellen Brennan said the girl, who had been in custody since mid-May, greatly benefitted from her enrollment in a residential treatment program at a local juvenile detention center.

Brennan determined that the girl, identified by only her middle name Grace, is not ready to be reunited with her mother.

"Give yourself a chance to follow through and finish something," Brennan reportedly told the girl during a three-hour hearing on Monday. "The right thing is for you and your mom to be separated for right now."

The teen reportedly told Brennan that she wanted to go home.

"I miss my mom," she admitted. "I can control myself. I can be obedient."

Brennan also said that Grace was not removed from her home because she refused to do homework — she was detained because "she was a threat to her mother."

She revealed that police visited Grace's home on at least three separate occasions responding to incidents that had taken place between Grace and her mother.

Brennan scheduled another hearing on the case in September.

Local politicians and activists have been vocal against Grace's incarceration and have demanded her release. Some activists question if Grace was incarcerated simply of the grounds of being black.

"My role is to make decisions that are in this young lady's best interest, period," Brennan said. "I took an oath that I would not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism."

Brennan also reportedly told Grace, "There is not a question in my mind, if I were to grant the request to release you home today, I would be making a mistake, and I would be doing you a disservice."

What else?

A recent ProPublica article noted that Grace suffers from ADHD and is receiving special education services.

The article reports that authorities filed an assault charge against Grace after her mother said she became violent during a discussion. She was later charged with larceny after she was caught stealing a fellow student's cellphone.

Because of her alleged infractions, she was hauled before juvenile court in April, where a judge determined Grace should be subject to "intensive probation."

According to reports, the requirements of the probation included remaining home, maintaining regular contact with an assigned family services caseworker, no use of cellphones, and completing school work on time and in its entirety.

Grace reportedly failed to maintain the standards set forth by the judge, which saw her land in the juvenile detention center.

Court records say she was remanded to detention because she had been deemed a "threat to community as original charge was assault and theft."

You can read more on the case's background here.

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