Michigan Facility Loses License After Restraint Death of Boy With Mental Illness
What happened: Residential facility Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan, will lose its license following an investigation after the death of a 16-year-old Black boy. On April 29, student Cornelius Frederick was forcibly restrained by staff after he threw a sandwich. According to Detroit Free Press, video shows a staff member “placing their weight on Fredericks’ chest for nearly 10 minutes, with the teen shouting, ‘I can’t breathe.'” Frederick went into cardiac arrest and staff waited 12 minutes before calling 911. Frederick was hospitalized in a coma until his death on May 1.
The senseless death of a youth at Lakeside for Children in Kalamazoo is intolerable and heartbreaking. We will take steps to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future and make sure there is accountability. — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Attorney Jonathan Marko compared the death of Cornelius Fredericks to that of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying both…
The response: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services conducted an investigation and found cause to terminate its relationship with Lakeside Academy. The state will no longer send children to the program, and it has suspended the academy’s license as it moves to permanently revoke it. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also said the state will no longer contract with organizations that rely on Sequel Youth and Family Services for staff, including Lakeside Academy.
The Frontlines: Frederick’s aunt, Tenia Goshay, told MLive that Frederick’s mother died when he was 10 years old. He lived with his stepfather and four siblings until his stepfather was incarcerated. Frederick, who had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), became a ward of the state because his aunt said she didn’t have the resources to get him the support he needed.
- In young people, PTSD and other mental health issues can show up as acting out, which is often interpreted as bad behavior rather than a sign of emotional distress
- The use of restraint in school is used disproportionately against Black disabled students — 19% of students with a disability are Black, but these students account for 36% of those who are restrained
- Restraint deaths in school mirror what happens outside. People with disabilities, including mental illness, make up 33 to 50% of those killed by police while Black men have the highest risk of being killed by police in their lifetime
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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, A Porter, also shared how painful these experiences are to witness. “What does a Black community get when the police or just regular white citizens are killing us? I tell you what we get. The national guard, the state police, the exact people who caused the harm in the first place. No counselors to be seen.” You can submit your first person story, too.
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Other things to know: If this news is hard for you, you’re not alone. These Mighty articles might help:
- How I’m Preserving My Mental Health as a Black Woman in America
- When a Friend Didn’t Understand Why I Was ‘Still Depressed’ About Racism
- The Fears of a Black Disabled Woman in America
What happens next: All students at Lakeside Academy have been placed elsewhere as action against the organization is ongoing. The county is also investigating to decide whether or not to bring criminal charges against Lakeside or its staff. Frederick’s family announced on Monday it plans to file a lawsuit.
Header image via Lakeside for Children/Facebook