Judge Declines to Release Girl, 15, Held for Skipping Online Schoolwork


The girl had been on probation after she pulled her mother’s hair and bit her finger in November, the judge said. The police referred the case to the Oakland County court, and an assault charge was filed against the girl. A few weeks later, she was charged with larceny after she was caught on surveillance video stealing a cellphone from a fellow student at Birmingham Groves High School in Beverly Hills, northwest of Detroit, according to ProPublica.

“I’m getting behind in my actual schooling while here,” she said, according to a video recording of the proceedings. “My mom wanted for me to get help anywhere — get help anywhere else but the judicial system, and I am not doing well emotionally.”

The girl’s mother said detention had kept her daughter from receiving the support she needs. “This situation is an emotional challenge, but is also a window into the brokenness that demands and deserves attention and repair as to prevent other children and families from being negatively impacted by a system that is supposed to offer protection and support,” she said in a statement.

The prosecutor in the case did not respond to a request for comment.

John Nevin, spokesman for the Michigan Supreme Court, said the court was working with the Oakland County Circuit Court to review the judge’s processes. “The review was prompted by the level of outcry and concern over the case,” he said.

Rai LaNier, Wayne County director at Michigan Liberation, said that in affluent Oakland County, there were resources for children who have learning disabilities and need additional help but that those resources were largely not going to Black children.

“A lot of Black children get their introduction to the criminal legal system through school, through detention, through the police getting involved because they have no other place to go,” she said. She said parents were starting to ask themselves, “How do I make sure my children get the support they need so that it doesn’t end in my child starting to have a criminal record?”

Jason Smith, policy director at the Michigan Youth Justice Center, said that the judge’s decision on Monday was wrong and that the teenager could continue any treatment she was receiving at the detention facility, Oakland County Children’s Village, at home.

“The judge called her a threat to the community because she did not do her schoolwork,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s extremely disappointing.”

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