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Michigan Protests: 15-year-old jailed for not doing homework during Covid-19 pandemic

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 17 July 2020, 11:12 IST
Michigan Protests

A scores of Detroit-area students showed up in protest outside their high schools on Thursday demanding the release of a classmate who was sent to juvenile detention after not completing schoolwork in the time of remote learning this previous semester.

The 15-year-old, by the name of Grace in the actual ProPublica report that focused attention on her case, was on probation for fighting with her mother and stealing. According to ProPublica, Grace, who suffers from attention dificit disorder, was easily sidetracked when studying from home and lagged behind in the time of e-learning. A circuit court judge in Michigan sent the 15-year-old to juvenile detention in May, pointing to the schoolwork as a probation breach.

On Thursday, demonstrators congregated at Groves High School in the outskirt of Beverley Hills ahead of driving to the Oakland County’s Circuit Court and prosecutor’s office holding posters that read ‘Free Grace’.

The protestors told Reuters Grace’s academic performance was not special as the country come to grips with Covid-19 pandemic.

“A lot of people were behind on their work this semester, no one had motivation to do anything because the teachers weren’t teaching and we were all online. I know so many people that didn’t do their homework,” said Prudence Canter, 18, a graduating senior at the school.

“It didn’t seem like the judge or the caseworker knew how grades and due dates and things were structured during the pandemic shutdown in the spring,” Geoff Wickersham, a social studies teacher at Grove, told Reuters at the protest. “I think this is a huge injustice.”

Speakers told protesters to raise their hands if they had at any time failed to turn in an assignment at some time and everyone raised their hands.

The prosecutor’s office turned down to make any statement. Judge Mary Bernnan, who handed down the decree, was not at once available for comment.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter put out a statement online on Tuesday, writing that he had spoken to the judge.

“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,” Coulter wrote.

Congressional Representative Andy Levin also put out a statement online saying that children shouldn’t be arrested for not doing their homework.

“The prosecution’s only witness was unaware of the student’s learning disabilities. Witnesses who could have provided a better understanding of the situation, like the student’s teachers, were unable to testify,” Levin wrote.

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First published: 17 July 2020, 11:05 IST