‘Free Grace’ -- Oakland County judge sends teen to juvenile detention over school work

School officials claim to have had no input on judge's order

Controversy brews after teen sent to juvenile detention.

BEVERLY HILLS, Mich. – A teenage girl was sent back to juvenile detention for not completing her homework and protesters are calling it racial discrimination.

The controversy centers around a Wylie E. Groves High School student who got caught up in the juvenile justice system.

A judge decided the teen, named Grace, violated her probation by not completing online schoolwork and sent her to juvenile detention.

Protesters gathered Thursday to speak up for Grace.

“I know if Grace was a 15-year-old White girl she would not be sitting in juvenile detention right now,” said Sheri Crawley.

Crawley is a mother with teenage daughters. She said her heart sank when she heard Grace was in the juvenile justice system for fighting and stealing. Then she broke down when she heard Oakland County Family Court presiding judge Mary Ellen Brennan sent Grace to juvenile detention for violating her probation by not finishing her online school work.

“I dropped to my knees,” Crawley said. “My daughters woke up hearing me cry.”

Brennan’s decision caused a firestorm of controversy. Protesters gathered at Groves High School on 13 Mile Road, then marched to the Oakland County Courts complex.

“We want to make sure all measures are examined before incarceration that’s with COVID or not COVID,” said Southfield Rep. Kyra Bolden.

July 16, 2020: Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 71,842; Death toll now at 6,101

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said “The controversy involves a Family Court judge’s decision on a case she took jurisdiction on a while ago. Only she can change or modify the Order.”

Birmingham school officials said they had no say in the judge’s order and held a special meeting Thursday to review Grace’s case and how to proceed to help her and others like her.

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.