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Teen With ADHD Jailed for Incomplete Schoolwork During COVID-19

Update: According to ProPublica, the judge in charge of the 15-year-old Michigan teen sent to juvenile detention for not doing her homework ruled the teen will not be released. The decision was made Monday by Judge Mary Brennan despite good reports from everyone involved in the teen’s case. 

What happened: A 15-year-old Michigan teen diagnosed with both ADHD and a mood disorder was placed in juvenile detention because she did not complete online schoolwork when the state switched to remote learning due to COVID-19. A violation of probation was entered against the teen just five days after she reported feeling overwhelmed by her assignments to her court-appointed caseworker.

None of the supports outlined in the student’s individualized education plan (IEP) were available to her during online instruction. According to ProPublica, the family court judge who heard the case called the teen “a threat to the community,” citing the assault and theft charges that led to her probation.

This is too harsh of a sentence for a kid who didn’t do their homework. … There is so much research that points to the fact that this is not the right response for this crime. — Terri Gilbert, advocate and former supervisor for juvenile justice programming in Michigan

The Frontlines: Youth with disabilities also face stricter penalties at school. Zero-tolerance policies and other school-level factors cause students of color with disabilities to be removed from their classrooms for minor violations, making graduating and avoiding the school-to-prison pipeline hard to do.

  • Youth with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended from school
  • Black, Latinx and Native youth with disabilities receive harsher and longer punishments than their white peers.

A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Chanel Polk, shared her thoughts on the video of the arrest of 6-year-old Kaia Rolle who was charged with misdemeanor battery after kicking and punching school employees. The girl had sleep apnea. “As I watched the video, I wondered how the adults who watched her get arrested didn’t see just how innocent she was. I wondered how they could stand back and let that happen. I wondered why they didn’t see that in this moment, they were failing her.” You can submit your first person story, too.

Other things to know: For more on how harsh discipline negatively impacts youth with disabilities, these Mighty articles may help:

How to take action: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination based upon their disability. The U.S. Department of Education’s guidance for parents and educators can help you understand your student’s rights under Section 504. You can check out the guide here.

Header image via sabelskaya/Getty Images