Teen sent to juvenile detention for not completing homework speaks on ‘injustice’

“There are thousands of other Graces out there," the teen's mother said.

A Michigan mother and her teen daughter, who spent 78 days in juvenile detention after a judge ruled that she'd violated probation by not completing her homework, are speaking out about their experience, which they say was an injustice in the criminal justice system.

Wishing to be identified only as Grace -- her middle name -- the now-16-year-old, who is Black and has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, had struggled to keep up with the transition to remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic last year. She was placed on "intensive probation" in April 2020 after being charged with assault for fighting with her mother and larceny for stealing a schoolmate's cellphone after her mother took hers away.

Grace, who lives in suburbs outside of Detroit, said that she knew there would be consequences for those actions, but she didn't realize they would rise to such a level, and that she thinks they did because she's Black.

"If a white girl were to steal the phone and she has the same history as me, same background, same everything ... they would probably look at her and say, 'Hey, you know, you're not brought up like this,'" Grace told ABC News' Linsey Davis. "But for me, I feel like it was more of an 'OK, this is what we expect from Black people.'"

PHOTO: Grace speaks to Linsey about her 78-day incarceration in juvenile detention for violating probation by missing her homework. Her family is now planning to file a due process complaint.

Charisse, Grace's mother who also asked to use her middle name, called her daughter's incarceration an "injustice" that should "not be forgotten ... that should never occur again."

"My daughter was penalized because of having a learning disability, which is her chronic ADHD," Charisse told ABC News.

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Among the terms of her probation was a requirement that Grace complete all of her schoolwork on time. But she said the transition to virtual learning made her feel overwhelmed and anxious. She was matched with a caseworker who Charisse said she thought would help Grace get the support services she needed.

"When we first met, she had shared with us that one of her roles would be to help us through any issues, to keep my daughter on the straight and narrow," Charisse said. Instead "I got a violation," she said.

Within days of hearing Grace might have been behind on her schoolwork, the caseworker referred her to the court, recommending that she be placed in juvenile detention, according to ProPublica , which first reported the case. The Oakland County Family Court Division did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

On May 14, Grace was subsequently brought before Oakland County family court Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, who at one point during the hearing said Grace was "a threat to the community." She ordered Grace to be taken into custody and sent to a county detention center named Children's Village. Her decision came after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus-related order to keep juveniles out of detention unless they posed "a substantial and immediate safety risk to others."

PHOTO: Children's Village in Oakland County, Michigan, is the juvenile detention center where Grace spent 78 days after a judge ruled she'd violated probation because she missed her homework.

"If we called every person who's taken something or a person who's [gotten into] an argument with their mom ... I'm pretty sure everybody would be ... a threat to the community," Grace said.

Jonathan Biernat, one of Grace's lawyers, said that in the handling of her case, the court never got "any testimony from the school or the teacher -- anybody involved with her education. They got testimony from the probation officer, the prosecutor. And the judge made her decision based on that testimony."

MORE: Judge: Teen jailed over homework released from probation

Reporter Jodi Cohen, who investigated Grace's case for ProPublica, told ABC News that 42% of youth referred to the court in the county where Grace lives are Black despite Black youth making up only 15% of the county's population.

"Cases like Grace's, and others where you see young people of color … disproportionately represented at various contact points, to me, that points out systemic failures long before the court involvement started," said Jason Smith, executive director of the Michigan Center for Youth Justice. "We wouldn't be talking about disparity rates at the confinement level if there was more support in the community. ... we wouldn't rely on the justice system to address a lot of these issues that shouldn't be criminalized in the first place."

PHOTO: Ashleigh Givens joins an overnight occupation to free "Grace" a 15-year-old Black teen who was detained to the juvenile detention facility for breaking her probation by not doing her online school work, Pontiac, Mich.,  July 29, 2020.

Charisse said she's still haunted by the memories of her daughter being handcuffed and taken into custody.

"I was devastated. It just didn't make any sense and I became very angry. I was furious," she said.

Grace still holds on to all the letters of support that she received during her time in juvenile detention, but she said one still stands out for her: The first one she sent to her mother from inside.

"Dear mommy, I miss you a lot, and being here is hard. I haven't really wrote you because I had to ask God to give me strength to do so. I couldn't write without crying or feeling bad for the rest of the day. ... Please continue to send me pictures of me and you or just with anyone. I love you, mommy, and I miss you," the letter reads in part.

MORE: 6 former youth detention center employees arrested on sexual assault charges

Cohen said that she received a call from Charisse in May 2020. After Charisse told her about Grace's situation, "it didn't sound right," Cohen said.

"Most lawyers who looked at the case didn't think it was possible to get her out of the detention center," Biernat said. "It would be too difficult to convince the judge to change your mind."

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Salma Khalil, another of Grace's lawyers, added that "these cases are long, they're drawn out, they're complicated [and] they require a lot of resources."

PHOTO: While she was incarcerated at the Children's Village juvenile detention center, Grace received multiple letters from people who'd heard of her story and wanted to show support.

ProPublica published Grace's story in mid-July 2020 and it quickly sparked widespread outcry -- far more attention than Charisse had expected, she said.

"We immediately started to receive phone calls from all over the country. We got calls from senators, we got calls from legislators in [Washington], D.C. It was amazing," Biernat said.

Cohen said she didn't expect her article to trigger a social media movement calling to free Grace. High school students slept outside, near the facility in protest of Grace's incarceration. A petition for her release garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures. And a grassroots organization led a 100-car caravan from Grace's school to the detention center.

PHOTO: Grace shows ABC News a letter of support from a person who'd heard about her story through the news.

Less than a week after the ProPublica article, as pressure to revisit Grace's case mounted, Brennan agreed to a hearing on a motion to release her from detention. During the hearing, Brennan recounted Grace's history of encounters with law enforcement, which go back to when she was a preteen, Cohen said, adding that Brennan used the hearing to make her point of view on the case public.

Meanwhile, Grace pleaded with the judge for her release, saying, "Each day, I try to be a better person than I was the last, and I've been doing that even before I was in this situation. I'm getting behind in my actual school while here [at the detention center]. The schooling here is beneath my level of education."

Brennan ultimately decided that Grace belonged in juvenile detention and denied her release. Khalil said that, at the hearing, Grace and Charisse hugged in what she described as a "heartbreaking moment."

"I think people need to remember that Grace and her mom have a very close bond," Khalil said. "Charisse raised Grace with her own hands. She's an involved mom, so the trauma that they are both experiencing and being separated from one another … it just breaks your heart that our system did that to them."

PHOTO: Grace and Charisse react after being denied early release during hearing in front of judge Mary Ellen Brennan, July 20, 2020, at Oakland County Court in Pontiac, Mich.

Biernat, however, said they "weren't going to sleep" until she'd been let go, and filed a petition with the Michigan Court of Appeals. It worked. Eleven days after the hearing, the appeals court ordered Grace to be released immediately.

Now, nearly a year after her experience, Grace is an honors student who enjoys taking pictures during her free time. She's also started to speak out about her experience, which has begun to catalyze change in the state. In June, Whitmer signed an executive order to create a task force on juvenile justice reform.

MORE: More than 30,000 children under age 10 have been arrested in the US since 2013: FBI

One of the goals of Whitmer's task force is to collect statewide data on the juvenile justice system's influence on youth who enter it, including how many youth within the justice system -- regardless of their race -- are there due to school discipline or academic issues. Smith said these numbers are currently "unknown."

"There are thousands of other Graces out there and we need to pay attention to those children," Charisse said. "Our Black girls are being criminalized. My child was criminalized because of her behavior and her ADHD, but Black girls are being criminalized just because of who they are."

PHOTO: Grace spent 78 days in juvenile detention after a judge ruled she'd violated probation by missing her homework.

Attorney Allison Folmar, a longtime family friend who is now representing them, told ABC News they are now planning to file a due process complaint against the school district where Children's Village is located, alleging that Grace was denied her right to adjust to remote learning as a student with ADHD.

"The Individuals with Disabilities [in Education] Act exists because you have to prohibit the very injustice that occurred in this case," Folmar said. "This federal act empowers students who are differently abled to learn in accordance with his or her individual ability and progress. Students cannot be forced into mainstream academic practice that leaves them at an educational disadvantage."

She went on, "So, this is about making sure that the educational system does not leave another child behind and … say we're speaking of this case, to criminalize the inability to learn in this type of situation."

While she noted that Grace is "still trying to recover academically" after her time in juvenile detention, Folmar also said that Grace "excels" when given "all of the necessary tools to thrive" and pointed to her becoming an honors student.

PHOTO: The honorable Mary Ellen Brennan addresses the court during an early release hearing for Grace, July 20, 2020, at Oakland County Court in Pontiac, Mich.

"We are simply trying to make her whole," Folmar said.

Since her learning plan had been disrupted by her incarceration, Folmar said they're now seeking compensation in the civil case to pay for the new school she's attending as well as the services she needs to succeed academically.

MORE: Hundreds claim decades of abuse by 150 youth center staffers

Grace said that her future plans include going to college and starting a computer information or cybersecurity business. She also said she wants to continue to advocate for others.

When asked if there was anything she would say to Brennan, Grace said she would tell her, "I'm not just what was on the papers. I'm not just what you saw from those reports or what you saw in those files. I have so many different attributes and I'm so different than just that, and I hope that she doesn't judge everyone based on just that."

ABC News' Gabriella Abdul-Hakim contributed to this report.

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How to Reduce After-School Detentions and Make Them Meaningful

Detention has been around for as long as I can remember, and some of us—myself included—have served a detention or two when we were students. When I became principal of Wilson West Middle School, I thought deeply about detention as part of our discipline practice. Do detention policies that have been around for decades work for today’s students? If the same students keep finding themselves in detention, what good do they serve? Are detentions effective and helping students learn from their mistakes or do schools keep them simply because they are so ingrained in our tradition?

What if there was a way to stop the same students from receiving detentions or not give them any at all? You can, by replacing it with more constructive ways for students to learn from their mistakes.

Here’s what we did at Wilson West Middle School to reduce detentions and make them more meaningful:

Create a Staff Committee to Review Discipline

Like so much of our work as school leaders, we are better when we work together. We formed a committee of administrators, teachers, and counselors to review our current approaches to discipline and detention policies and looked closely at what infractions students were committing to gain an understanding of what was really happening with detention. What we saw was the same students receiving repeated detentions and not all of our teachers assigning detentions; only a few teachers gave detentions, so some students had higher detention numbers only because they had a particular teacher. And when we asked these teachers why they assigned detentions, it wasn’t because they thought them particularly effective at curbing the behavior, but rather they did it because that is what the student handbook required and there was no other way to address the behavior.

Update Outdated Detention Policies

These observations led us to review our detention policies. Our committee realized quickly how outdated some of the rules were, and we needed to make changes. For example, we dropped the no gum or food policies schoolwide and turned that responsibility over to the individual classroom teacher. Each teacher decides if they want to make that a classroom rule/policy. In real life everyone can eat and drink anywhere they want unless it is posted. Are we not getting our children ready for the next level? Teachers and staff have that morning cup of coffee or tea. Why can’t students? Do we practice what we preach?

Another big issue for which students were getting detentions involved being late to class. To address this issue, we got rid of our bell schedule. This required a major climate shift in the building, and there was immediate pushback from the staff. I created a schedule that had one-minute passing times between classes and explained to the teachers that they should be the ones starting and dismissing the classes, not the bell. Next time you are in the hallway, take a look at the number of students that stand in the hallway speaking with friends, waiting for the bell to ring before darting into class. To avoid the sporadic and inconsistent nature of late markings, there are no bells. In addition, it more closely resembles the nature of the likely next leg of their journey—college.

Creating New Detention Criteria

Just by making these two changes, we saw an overall decrease in detentions by 75 percent. The detentions that are assigned are addressed by the teacher or administrator with a call home and engagement with a parent/guardian. Getting the parents/guardians involved is the first step in making detentions more meaningful for students. After all, if the infraction is bad enough to warrant a detention, then parents need to be called.

We also track the students who are getting detentions. If a student gets four or more detentions in a quarter, we set up a conference with the parent/guardian. The staff that are invited usually consist of grade-level team members, a counselor, an administrator, and other interested parties. These meetings help to address the problem behaviors in a more direct way by discussing the underlying issues that led to the infraction in the first place.

Making Time in Detention More Meaningful

  • Write a reflection as to why they got detention in the first place and what they could have done differently.
  • Have a one-on-one conference with the monitor who asks the student a variety of questions for personal reflection. We developed questions for various situations to guide these conferences.
  • Read an article about their offense and then report out to the counselor.
  • Set goals. One of those goals should be not to get detention ever again.
  • Write an apology letter to their parents for being assigned the detention. In the letter they should explain why they got the detention and thank them for picking them up after detention.

We also use lunch detentions. When serving a lunch detention, the student needs to do schoolwork as they are eating. This is also a good time to have teachers conference with students to discuss why they received the lunch detention. (Check with the building union representative prior to asking a teacher to do this during their lunch.)

Changing our detention policies have shifted our culture from a punitive one where students’ every move is monitored to a restorative one where students have more autonomy and choice. I encourage all of you to review your school’s approach to discipline and its detention policies. Making a few adjustments can definitely change the climate of your building for the better.

What is your school’s approach to detention? What strategies help make detention more meaningful and effective?

Kyle Wetherhold is the Principal at Wilson West Middle School, a state and national School to Watch. He is the 2018 Pennsylvania Principal of the Year. Follow him on Twitter @ wetkyl .

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What Is Detention In School? A Detailed Look At School Detentions

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Getting detention in school is never a fun experience for students. If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in a classroom during lunch or after the final bell waiting out your time, you know just how boring detention can be.

But do you really understand what detention is and how it works in schools today? Read on for a comprehensive guide examining school detentions.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Detention is a form of school discipline where students are required to spend extra time in school, typically an hour or so, as a consequence for breaking school rules .

Detentions are usually held outside of normal class time, like during lunch or before/after school.

What Is Detention in Schools?

Detention in schools is a form of disciplinary action that is commonly used to address student misbehavior . It is a consequence that is imposed on students who have violated school rules or policies. Detention serves as a way to teach students about accountability and responsibility for their actions.

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A Form of School Discipline

Detention is a widely used form of school discipline that aims to correct student behavior and prevent future misconduct. It is often seen as a more lenient alternative to more severe disciplinary measures such as suspension or expulsion .

By assigning detention, schools provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their actions and make amends for their behavior.

Held Outside of Class Time

Detention sessions are typically held outside of regular class hours. This means that students are required to stay after school or during breaks to serve their detention . The specific time and duration of detention can vary depending on the school’s policies and the severity of the offense committed.

Lasting Around 1 Hour Typically

Detention periods usually last for about an hour , although this can vary depending on the school’s guidelines . During this time, students are often required to complete assignments, study, or engage in activities that promote self-reflection and personal growth.

The goal is to provide a structured environment where students can learn from their mistakes and develop better decision-making skills.

It is important to note that the purpose of detention is not to punish students, but rather to help them learn from their mistakes and become more responsible individuals . Schools use detention as a means of teaching students about the consequences of their actions and encouraging them to make positive changes in their behavior.

Why Do Schools Use Detentions?

Schools use detentions as a disciplinary measure to address various issues and promote a positive learning environment. Here are some reasons why schools implement detentions :

To Punish Minor Misbehavior

Detentions are often used to address minor misbehavior , such as tardiness, talking out of turn, or not completing homework . These infractions may not warrant more severe consequences like suspension, but they still need to be addressed.

By assigning detentions, schools aim to discourage these behaviors and encourage students to follow the rules.

Preferable to Suspension

Compared to suspension , detentions are seen as a less severe consequence. Suspension involves removing a student from school for a specific period, which can disrupt their education and social interactions . In contrast, detentions allow students to remain in school while serving their punishment.

This can be beneficial as it provides an opportunity for students to reflect on their actions and learn from their mistakes without being completely removed from the educational environment.

Teaches Responsibility

Detentions also serve as a way to teach students about responsibility and accountability for their actions. By assigning detentions, schools emphasize the importance of taking ownership of one’s behavior and the consequences that may follow .

This can help students develop valuable life skills, such as self-discipline and problem-solving, which are essential for their personal and academic growth.

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When Can Schools Give Detentions?

Detentions in schools are given as a disciplinary measure to address inappropriate behavior or violations of school rules. The specific circumstances under which a school can give detentions may vary from one educational institution to another .

However, there are some common reasons for which detentions are typically given.

Varies by School

The rules regarding when schools can give detentions can vary depending on the school’s policies and guidelines. Each school has its own set of rules and expectations for student behavior, which are typically outlined in a student handbook or code of conduct .

These rules help maintain a safe and productive learning environment for all students.

It’s important for students and parents to familiarize themselves with the specific rules and policies of their school to understand the circumstances under which detentions may be given. This can help students avoid behaviors that may lead to disciplinary action .

Common Reasons for Detention

While the exact reasons for detention can differ between schools, there are several common behaviors that often result in this disciplinary action. These may include :

  • Repeatedly violating school rules or policies
  • Disrupting the learning environment
  • Using inappropriate language or gestures
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Skipping classes or being consistently tardy
  • Failure to complete assignments or homework

These are just a few examples, and schools may have additional reasons for giving detentions based on their own specific circumstances and priorities.

Unexcused Tardiness/Absences

One common reason for which schools often give detentions is unexcused tardiness or absences. Being consistently late to school or skipping classes without a valid reason can disrupt the learning environment and hinder a student’s academic progress .

Detentions for unexcused tardiness or absences serve as a reminder to students of the importance of punctuality and regular attendance. They encourage students to develop responsible habits and ensure that they attend all classes regularly.

It’s worth noting that schools may have different policies regarding what constitutes an excused absence or tardiness. Parents and students should consult their school’s policies or reach out to school administrators for clarification.

What Happens During Detention?

Students must remain silent.

During detention, one of the main rules is that students must remain silent . This is to ensure a quiet and focused environment, allowing students to reflect on their actions and make better choices in the future.

By maintaining silence, students are encouraged to think about the consequences of their behavior and consider how they can improve their behavior in the future.

Work/Reading Allowed

While students are not allowed to talk during detention, they are typically given the opportunity to work on assignments or read quietly . This allows them to catch up on missed work, review material, or complete homework.

It’s important for students to use this time productively and take advantage of the opportunity to stay on top of their academic responsibilities.

Bathroom Breaks Restricted

In some cases, schools may restrict bathroom breaks during detention . This is to ensure that students remain focused and do not use bathroom breaks as an opportunity to socialize or disrupt the detention process.

However, it’s important for schools to strike a balance and ensure that students have access to basic needs . If a student has a medical condition or urgent need to use the restroom, they should be allowed to do so under supervision.

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Are There Any Rules for Detention?

When it comes to detention in schools, there are typically rules and guidelines that students must follow. These rules may vary depending on the specific school’s policies, but there are a few common rules that are often enforced .

School Policies Vary

Each school has its own set of policies regarding detention. Some schools may have a detailed code of conduct that outlines specific behaviors that can result in detention, while others may have more general guidelines .

It is important for students to familiarize themselves with their school’s policies to understand what actions may warrant a detention.

No Talking/Sleeping Typical

One common rule during detention is no talking or sleeping. Detention is often viewed as a time for reflection and discipline, so students are expected to remain quiet and attentive . This rule helps create a focused environment where students can think about their actions and learn from their mistakes.

Phones/Electronics Forbidden

In most schools, students are not allowed to use their phones or other electronic devices during detention . This is to prevent distractions and ensure that students are fully engaged in the detention process.

Detention is meant to be a time for self-reflection and personal growth, and the absence of phones and electronics helps create a conducive environment for this.

It’s worth noting that while these rules are common, they may vary from school to school. Some schools may have additional rules or guidelines specific to their institution . Students should always check with their school’s administration or refer to the student handbook for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding detention rules.

Getting detention is never an exciting prospect, but understand that schools rely on it to maintain discipline and order. While the experience may seem tedious and boring at the time, detention can impart important lessons about personal responsibility.

If you find yourself stuck in detention, make the most of the time to catch up on work. With the right perspective, detention doesn’t have to be the terrible punishment it’s made out to be.

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Maria Sanchez is the founder of the Save Our Schools March blog. As a former teacher and parent, she is passionate about equitable access to quality public education. Maria created the blog to build awareness around education issues and solutions after organizing a local march for public schools.

With a Master's in Education, Maria taught high school English before leaving her career to raise a family. As a parent, she became concerned about underfunded schools and over-testing. These experiences drove Maria to become an education advocate.

On the blog, Maria provides resources and policy insights from the dual perspective of an informed parent and former teacher. She aims to inspire others to join the movement for quality, equitable public education. Maria lives with her family in [city, state].

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Review Ordered After Michigan Judge Sends Black Teen to Juvenile Detention for Skipping Online Schoolwork

A Michigan judge has sparked backlash after a new report found she sentenced a Black teenager to a juvenile detention facility for a probation violation. The violation? That the teen had not been completing online assignments as her school shifted to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The student, a 15-year-old Black girl identified as Grace, has ADHD. Grace said she had struggled to adjust and to keep up with her schoolwork after beginning remote learning in April, according to the report , co-published on Tuesday by ProPublica and the Detroit Free Press . Disruptions to students’ education caused by school closures across the U.S. has been widely reported, especially as access to high-speed Internet at home is not evenly distributed throughout the country. (Limited at-home educational resources, parental oversight and the potential lack of a suitable learning environment are also factors impacting students’ experiences.)

Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, who presides over the Oakland County Family Court Division, ruled in May that Grace had broken the terms of her probation — which stemmed from a prior fight with her mother, and a charge of larceny after she was caught stealing another student’s cellphone at school — by not doing her homework. Brennan, who is white, ordered that Grace be sent to the county’s juvenile detention center, Children’s Village. According to ProPublica, Grace is required to remain at the detention center until a hearing to review the case set for Sept. 8.

“I told her she was on thin ice and I told her that I was going to hold her to the letter, to the order, of the probation,” Brennan said during Grace’s sentencing. Brennan also called Grace a “threat to the community.”

Her ruling came despite an executive order issued in March from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which called for the elimination of juvenile detention to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus unless an individual was a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others.”

Brennan could not immediately be reached for comment.

Grace’s mother, identified in the report as Charisse, said her visits with Grace since her incarceration have been limited. She described the deep pain of seeing her daughter’s ankles shackled and wrists bound in handcuffs at the detention facility. “For me and our culture, that for me was the knife stuck in my stomach and turning,” Charisse told ProPublica. “That is our history, being shackled. And she didn’t deserve that.”

An analysis of 4,800 cases that were referred to the Oakland County Circuit Court from January 2016 to June 2020 found that 42% involved young Black people, despite Black youth only making up 15% of the county’s population.

During the hearing to decide whether she violated her probation, Grace acknowledged that attending school online was difficult, but said it was something she could work toward improving. “I just needed time to adjust to the schedule that my mom had prepared for me,” she explained.

Amid growing outrage following the report’s publication — and calls from people online that Brennan be fired specifically — Oakland County Executive David Coulter on Tuesday evening asked the court to review Grace’s case again.

“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 said in a statement, noting that he had spoken with Brennan about her ruling. “It has been a top priority of my administration to keep the young people and employees safe at Children’s Village during the pandemic and that includes limiting residency to immediate safety risks.”

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after school homework detention

Richard James Rogers

Educational articles and advice for teachers. www.amazon.com/author/rogersrichard

after school homework detention

The Effective Use of Detentions

An article by   Richard James Rogers   (Author of  The Quick Guide to Classroom Management )

Follow me on Instagram

Illustrated by   Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati  

The events in this article are based on actual occurrences. The names and, in some instances, the genders of individuals have been changed to protect the individuals’ privacy.

He opened his laptop and started playing around, again. I hadn’t quite noticed until I’d gotten the rest of this Year 7 class to get their books open and start completing the questions that were on the whiteboard.

It took a good five minutes for them all to settle down.

They’d just been learning about the human body in the best way I could think of: They took apart a life-sized model of a human female (filled with plastic, life-sized organs) and completely rebuilt it.

It had gotten them quite excited; especially the boys, who thought that the mammary glands inside a female breast were completely hilarious!

The class then had to cut and stick a paper human body together – organs included. But he was taking too long.

mess around in class

Christopher  was a happy and talkative kid, but his work-rate was slow. On two occasions that lesson I walked over to his desk to help out and remind him to speed up, as everyone else was ahead of where he was. He should have been able to get that work done quickly. He had no Special Educational Needs and his English proficiency had increased so much in three months that he had graduated from the E.L.D. programme.


The only thing slowing him down was his chattiness.

I should have moved him sooner in the lesson – my mistake. 15  minutes before the end of the class I moved him to the front to sit next to me, where he couldn’t chat with friends and be distracted.

It wasn’t enough time.

I pondered the idea of giving him a detention. Break-time was straight after this lesson, so it would be easy for me to keep him behind for ten minutes to get that work done. 

The concept and purpose of detentions

Before we can fully understand how to use detentions effectively, we must first remind ourselves of what detentions are and, therefore, what their purpose should be. 

A detention is a period of time that is purposefully taken away from a student’s extra-curricular or non-curricular time. It may involve a teacher-supervised activity during a morning break, lunch or after school. 

Detentions are given to students for a wide-variety of reasons; some of which are more logical than others. Reasons for detentions (starting with the most logical and useful) can include:

  • Failure to complete homework or classwork
  • Poor attendance
  • Persistent lateness/lack of punctuality
  • Disruption to class activities through poor behaviour
  • Receiving a certain, set number of ‘warnings’ or ‘demerits’

Christopher’s case as an example to follow

The most logical and useful way to use detentions is time-for-time:  time not spent completing homework or classwork should be compensated by time spent on detention.

Colorful classroom without student with board,books and globe - rendering

In Christopher’s case I decided to give the break-time detention. Here are the reasons for my choice:

  • The Science lesson ended at break-time, so it was convenient for me to keep him behind in my class (I didn’t have the problem of, say, giving him a lunchtime detention for the next day and then having to remember that he is coming and maybe chase him up if he doesn’t come along). 
  • Christopher would be exchanging his breaktime for time spent completing his classwork. He must do this, as he will fall behind if he doesn’t.
  • The detention serves as a reinforcement of the teacher’s authority, and a stern reminder that a poor work-ethic just won’t be tolerated. It turns out that after only two such break-time detentions, Christopher pulled up his socks and began working at a reasonable pace during lessons. 

General tips for detentions that will save you many problems

Every detention must attempt to address or solve the problem that it was given for .

Consider the following:

  • Detentions eat up the teacher’s time as well as the students, so we really should only be giving out detentions when it is absolutely necessary (as in Christopher’s case above)
  • For homework that’s not done on time: call the perpetrating student or students to your desk for a quick one-to-one discussion at the end of class, or during a class activity. Express your disappointment, and why meeting deadlines is important. Relate it to the world of work, for example “If I didn’t write your reports on time, what would happen to me? That’s right, I’d be in big trouble” . Allow the students an extra day or so to get the work done. No need for conflict, no need to spend your precious lunch time giving a detention.
  • If students still don’t hand in the homework even after extending a deadline, then it is necessary to give a detention. CRUCIALLY, however, the purpose of the detention MUST be to complete that homework. Print the sheet again if necessary, provide the necessary resources and get the student to complete the work. This makes the detention less confrontational and reinforces the reason why it was given in the first place. 
  • The same goes for classwork: give students the chance to take their books home and complete classwork if it isn’t done on-time in class. Persistent slow work-rates in class, if not caused by reasonable circumstances (such as Special Educational Needs), should be met with detentions that allow the student to catch up. In almost every case you’ll find that the students will cotton-on to the fact that they can’t get away with distraction and laziness in class, and they’ll soon improve. For those that don’t improve even after focused detentions, further action will be needed and may involve parents and senior/middle management. 
  • For poor behaviour, detentions need to be planned and crafted really well. Remember: the detention should attempt to address or solve the problem that it was given for . I remember a couple of years back when two boys got involved in a bit of a scuffle in the science lab. It wasn’t anything major, but one kid said a nasty word to the other and that kid decided to punch his mate in the arm quite hard. As a Science Teacher, this is something I must absolutely nip-in-the-bud because safety in the lab is paramount, and kids just can’t scuffle or fight in there: period. I gave them both a detention for the next day at 1pm. They came, and I spent the time explaining to them why their behavior was unacceptable. They wrote letters of apology to me and each other, and left the detention understanding exactly why I had taken their time away from them. I didn’t have a problem with them again.
  • Lessons that end at break times work well for giving detentions if necessary, as you can easily retain the students when the bell rings. If you do assign detentions for the next day or at a later time, then pencil those into your diary – this will serve both as a useful reminder and as a record of who’ve you’ve given detentions to and how often. 

Recurring work 

I’m a massive believer in the power of recurring work and journaling, and have written about it in detail here and here . 

Learning journals are just great for giving regular recurring feedback and for consolidating and reviewing cumulative knowledge gained throughout an academic year. But did you know that Learning Journals save you many a supervised detention too?

Many schools provide homework timetables for students and teachers to follow. With the very best of intentions, these timetables aim to distribute student and teacher workload evenly and fairly. However, they can prove difficult to follow when units include different intensities of work, and when school events get in the way.


Set Learning Journals as homework each week. The basic idea is that students buy their own notebook and fill it with colorful revision notes on a weekly basis (although they can be done online too: through Google Sites, for example). Perhaps your Year 10 class could hand-in their learning journals in every Wednesday, and collect them from you (with feedback written inside, see the articles cited above) every Friday. By setting up a register of collection that the students sign, you can easily see who hasn’t handed in their journal that week.

Then……follow the guidelines given above for dealing with late or un-submitted homework. You’ll find that after a few weeks of initiating Learning Journals you’ll get a near 100% hand-in rate, because the students are really clear about what is expected each week, because it is a recurring homework. 

Whole school  considerations

Many schools adopt a popular (but massively problematic) ‘mass-detention’ system of some sort, which works something like this:

  • The student receives the requisite number of ‘warnings’ in a particular lesson which lead to a break or lunch time detention being given
  • The student is sent to a room with other students from the school who’ve also received detentions
  • Teachers supervise the ‘detention room’ on a rotating basis, thereby (in theory), sharing the workload across the staff body
  • The students are given generic tasks to do during the detention time, which may include filling in a form, completing homework or in the very worst cases just sitting still and being quiet for twenty minutes or so.

The problem with systems like this is that they are not personal to the students receiving the detentions. They do not follow the ‘golden rule’: that detentions should address or solve the problem that they were given for .

What’s much more effective in the long-term is to trust individual teachers to administer their own detentions. Perhaps provide a quick training session based on good practice (feel free to use this article if you wish), and allow the teachers to then use their judgement to decide when and how detentions should be given.

Student detentions are only effective when they have the ‘ personal touch’ . When detentions address the original issue by allowing more time to complete homework or classwork, or allow for a one-on-one discussion about behaviour, the following magical things happen:

  • The detention is given from a standpoint of care and concern, not confrontation and aggression
  • Students realise the reason why the detention was given as this reason is reinforced by the activities given during the time of the detention
  • Students improve. It’s that simple. Mass detention systems rarely work because they don’t pinpoint the personal reasons behind why the student is under-performing. Detentions with the ‘ personal touch’ cause students to realise their errors and most, if not all, will improve in a short space of time. 


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Author: richardjamesrogers

High School Science and Mathematics Teacher, Author and Blogger. Graduated from Bangor University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Molecular Biology and a PGCE in Secondary Science Education. Richard also holds the coveted Certificate in Mathematics from the Open University (UK). Richard is the award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know View All Posts

2 thoughts on “ The Effective Use of Detentions ”

  • Pingback: When Kids Don’t Return Homework – What can we do?

Is it acceptable and legal to make students clean the school windows as a detention task ? It happened in my child’s school and parents did not complain but I am concerned this is abuse of power

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after school homework detention

Teaching with Detention


Far too often, students and educators struggle to see eye to eye. Teachers regularly disagree on methods of disciplining their students. Controversy arises, even, with the question of whether or not teachers should apply any discipline to their students, or leave it up to the parents. One of the most common practices in dealing with misbehaving students is holding after school detention. But by keeping students after school hours, are teachers exercising their rights, or going too far? Is detention an effective solution to class disruptions, or would it spur future problems?

Free resources across the internet allow for teachers to weigh detention and all of its possible alternatives.

  • Lesson Plan
  •   Behavior Worksheets : Here, Worksheet Place provides dozens of worksheets for students that assist them in assessing their behavior and emotions. The worksheets include behavior contracts, bullying analyses, conflict resolutions, goal setting, and more. The page also includes resources for teachers, including classroom management checklists, and class rules that teachers can display on their walls. These tasks can be used as opportunities for reflection in place of punishment or can serve as activities to be completed during detention. These worksheets are mostly intended for younger students and can be completed inside or outside of regular class time.
  • Reflection Document : Pivotal Education provides this reflection worksheet to give to detention-serving students. The document is meant to outline an activity more productive than what is normally presented for students, and to prevent further behavior issues in the future. The questions on the worksheet force the student to identify and reflect on the people affected by their actions and ideas for preventing future issues. The open-ended questions within the document allow for flexibility for the worksheet to be used with virtually any age range.
  • Discipline Packet : This online packet from Teacher Beacon provides worksheets and for responding to misbehavior. The packet includes printable warning slips, a behavior contract, and a sample letter to parents. Also included are writing assignments to be completed by students who break classroom ground rules. Most of these assignments serve as consequences for minor infringements such as gum-chewing, tardiness, and disruptive behavior. The writing assignments can serve as lesser consequences to stop the behavior before further action becomes necessary. Teachers can utilize items within this packet to establish ground rules and to keep track of recurring offenses.
  • Do Detentions and Suspensions Work? : Here. Education World interviewed Annemarie Hillman, a policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, to analyze whether detentions and suspensions prove themselves effective in schools. She classifies suspensions as ineffective since students tend to view them like vacations. Detentions, however, can work “if done right.” They can serve as an incentive to keep students from repeating misbehavior. When students serve detention during lunch, they miss out on a social opportunity and in turn will be less likely to act up in the future. 
  • New Direction : James Paterson from District Administration Media examines ways that adults are trying to implement disciplinary action into their schools. The article establishes that African American and special needs students face disproportionate rates of exclusionary punishment. According to a number of cited studies, students who receive detentions are more likely to drop out of school altogether. This article highlights alternatives that teachers have found to the standard sit-silently style of confinement. Allowing students to reflect on their actions and for teachers to coach struggling students proves much more productive. Teachers can read this article to determine improvements for the established practice.
  • Student-Run Courts : This article from The Guardian acknowledges the disproportionality of detentions in school systems and outlines a recent alternative to the custom: mock court systems. Rather than serve detention for certain offenses, students are to stand before a committee of their peers, make their case, and ultimately face fair consequences for their actions. The article praises this new approach, arguing that it prevents student-teacher discrimination in disciplinary systems and consequently fights the impelling school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Informational Sites
  • Defining Detention : Queensland Government provides a foundational understanding of detention and the common practices associated with it. The site outlines parameters for responsible behavior in a linked study, titled “Safe, Supportive and Disciplined School Environment Procedure.” This page can serve helpful for those who may desire a better understanding of what detention is, or for educators unfamiliar with how to lead a session.
  • Responding to Bad Behavior : University of Florida’s College of Education lists possible ways in which educators can respond to bad behavior. The items on this list can serve as alternatives to detention, a practice which may be the first thing that comes to mind. The actions can be applied to students of most ages. The approaches range from keeping a behavior log, to requiring a writing assignment, to revoking parking privileges for older students. While detention is one of the listed consequences, teachers can choose from any item on the list to enforce in their own classrooms.
  • Task Ideas : Study.com provides this list of tips and ideas for teachers choosing to hold students after school. The goal of the article and the tradition is to provide students with tasks that will prevent future mishaps and improve classroom behavior. The site lists tactics that teachers can employ, such as dialogue journals and reflection sheets, and links supporting articles for each strategy. The site lists four strategies for teachers, all of which can be stretched to fit students of almost any age range.

Young people often rave about how educational institutions take up so much of their time and teach them no real-life skills. They are, after all, full-time students by the age of six. Perhaps by making the time spent with students, detention included, more productive, teachers can allow students to further appreciate their education and apply themselves more in the future. Educators should make sure that any disciplinary measures they take have the students’ best interests in mind. Schools should weigh circumstances to decide what method of discipline would be most fair for the students’ and teacher’s time.

Additional Resources

  • Middle-School : This neaToday article criticizes forms of discipline for middle-school-aged children. Author Sabrina Holcomb references the school-to-prison pipeline, a theory that correlates higher rates of suspensions and expulsions with a higher likelihood of those same students becoming unemployed and going to prison. When a student’s learning is interrupted by such punitive measures, they are more likely to drop out of school and rely mainly on government-provided welfare programs. Holcomb acknowledges that the issue is not the fault of the teachers, but rather that of the broader school disciplinary system.
  •   Detention Is Not The Answer : This literature review by Stephanie McCann from Northwestern College examines practices of institutional discipline, especially detention, and attempts to determine the most productive method for everyone involved. In the past, the practice has discriminated harshly against certain students. The author gathers that students for whom detention becomes a pattern experience major social and emotional consequences that affect them “for the rest of their life.” She acknowledges alternatives for the penalty and suggests that schools find a consensus for what works for their students. 

Example Guidelines : This site lists the guidelines for after-school detention at Lakewood Junior High School in California. The page delineates the school’s specific regulations, including commonly broken rules, expectations for those serving detention, and principles of conduct for future reference. Teachers can utilize this site to gain a better understanding of how one school approaches its academic disciplinary system. Should they choose to administer detentions, educators can look to these clear-cut guidelines when crafting their own system.

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5.4.3 detention after school, detention after school.

(CA Code of Regulations, Title V, Section 353)

Although school staff are highly encouraged to use non-punitive disciplinary methods, school staff may utilize after-school detention for disciplinary reasons in dealing with minor school infractions.  After school detention is limited to not more than one hour at the end of the school day.

This page was last updated on July 23, 2023

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3 Alternatives to Assigning Detention

Developing relationships with students to help them make positive choices requires planning and patience, but the work pays off.

Administrator talks to student in her office

There may be times when you have reached the end of your patience with a student’s behavior. They may disrupt learning or repeat a negative behavior too many times. What do we do as teachers in these scenarios? Sometimes the simple answer is assigning detention.

Yet detention is not an effective discipline tool for some students , and in fact it might increase the recurrence of negative behavior. Detention and other punitive measures, like suspensions and expulsions, can contribute to other issues , such as recidivism among students, despite harsher or longer punishments. These measures have the potential to increase apathy and defiance. They can jeopardize teachers’ and staff’s efforts to build relationships and trust. Finally, they can have a negative effect on a student’s academic performance.

There is evidence of racial and ethnic disparities among students assigned to detention. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights sent a letter to educators outlining the disparities and offering alternatives to detention and suspension. Instead of detention, the DOE recommends restorative practices and positive interventions, such as counseling.

There may be severe circumstances that require removing a student from the school environment and placing them on off-campus suspension, such as hitting, fighting, threatening, or verbal assault. But before submitting a detention referral form for minor, day-to-day offenses, consider these three alternatives.

One suggestion is to create a reflection room in place of one for detention. In it, teachers, administrators, caregivers, and the student go through a reflective process to understand the root cause of a conflict and assist the student in understanding and identifying better options. Reflective practices teach students what actions they can take in the future when confronted with difficult situations.

As a middle school assistant principal, I recently had two students referred to me for pushing each other during recess. As I spoke with each of the students individually, I realized they had very different perspectives on what had occurred. “I tripped and landed on him. Really!” versus “He deliberately ran into me!”

These two students needed to learn how to see a situation from another person’s point of view. They each wrote a narrative description of the scuffle as if they were the other person. I followed up with each student separately, and both realized that perhaps they had misinterpreted the other person’s intentions. After writing a reflection, there’s no guarantee that they will never push each other again. But maybe they’ll take a moment to consider what the other person is thinking before they react physically.

Logical Consequences

If you are familiar with the concept of the Responsive Classroom , you might have heard about logical consequences . Instead of harsh punishment, the teacher gently instructs the student on how to correct their errors.

At the end of the discussion, students become empowered because the teacher assists them in reaching epiphanies like “When I knock things down, I have to help build them back up,” “I can fix things when I mess up,” or “My teacher helps me solve problems.” If a student leaves a mess at the lunch table, the obvious next step is to clean it up. Please keep in mind that this is not a suggestion to assign illogical chores, such as “You forgot your homework, now scrape gum off the sidewalk.”

The tone of the teacher is critical when using logical consequences. It should convey problem-solving and learning rather than anger or frustration. Maintaining students’ dignity is essential for assisting them in learning from an experience.

Logical consequences do not always have to be negative. When students make thoughtful decisions that result in good outcomes, note it. Ask your school administration if they will accept “positive office referrals” in which a teacher refers a student for helpful behaviors. How cool would it be if your students routinely wondered, “Is she there for a positive referral?” whenever the principal called a student out of class.

Restorative Practices

Restorative practices, in a nutshell, teach students how to right the wrongs they have caused. They provide alternatives to using punishment and build healthier learning communities. To quote Arkansas principal Chelsea Jennings , “Kids who are frequently in trouble are often testing a system that has repeatedly failed them, but a restorative approach says ‘we are not giving up on you.’”

If a student disrespects another student or staff member in words or actions, how can that student attempt to repair the harm done? A science teacher at our school implemented this approach when a student disrupted her class. The teacher informed the student that her disruptive behavior had taken away instructional time, and as a result, the student would have to help the teacher recoup some of the lost time by assisting with the prep for the next lab before school. Even if the student thought that prepping for a lab was enjoyable or fun, that student was fulfilling the spirit of the consequence: making up for the lost time.

Peer conflict resolution assists students in working to repair the harm done to another student. Students can be taught conflict resolution with the help of a faculty member or counselor. If a student uses a slur or disrespectful language, that student should investigate why that language is harmful. By conducting research first, the offending student can craft a more sympathetic and informed apology to the victim.

An example of this is a middle school student who made a racially insensitive joke. From speaking with the student, it was clear that he did not know the joke was offensive. He was repeating what he had read on the internet. After doing some research on the origins of the joke, the student realized why it was hurtful and sincerely apologized.

There would be no growth, no new understanding, no repairing of harm, if I simply assigned him detention.

The alternatives suggested above are not quick and easy. Some people will object, fearing that restorative practices are letting students off easy or with just a slap on the wrist. These are valid concerns, but one important point to remember is that restorative practices are preventive actions based on relationships.

Building the relationships necessary to guide students toward positive choices requires creativity, planning, and a lot of patience. So why do it? It pays off when students’ behavior improves and the community becomes a more positive environment.

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After school detentions may be given by teachers or administrators for disciplinary infractions. When the student receives a detention for misbehavior, he/she must make arrangements for transportation. Detentions can be 20 minutes or 40 minutes in length, depending upon the circumstances. All detentions begin at 3:20 p.m. Students who are tardy to detention will not be admitted and this will result in further disciplinary action. Students are to bring meaningful work, computer, pencil, and paper to detention. Failure to do so will result in a 40-minute detention the following day. Students who fail to show up for detention, or who receive excessive detentions, will be subject to ISS or suspension. If a parent has a question about the detention, he/she should contact the staff member who issued the detention. Students must serve a detention the day AFTER it is issued. Teachers may not change detention dates.

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after school homework detention

What Is A Detention In School?

A detention is a common form of discipline that schools and teachers use to discipline students for bad behavior. When a student is given a detention they have to stay after school for a specified amount of time which is usually between 20 and 60 minutes, depending on the teacher and/or the schools detention policy. During detention the student has to stay in a room away from the rest of their peers and is expected to be quiet.

Who Gives Detentions?

Detentions can be given by a classroom teacher or by a school administrator.

The teacher or administrator assigning the detention should also contact parents or guardians so that they are aware of why their student is staying after school.

Students and their parents will also have to arrange for transportation after the detention.

after school homework detention

What Do You Do During A Detention?

Really, students don’t do anything during a detention except sit there until the time has passed.

This is their punishment for misbehaving.

There may be some teachers that will allow a student to read or do homework but in my opinion they really shouldn’t because a detention is meant to be a punishment.

When the detention ends the student leaves.

Detentions after school usually last 20 to 60 minutes.

Reasons For Getting A Detention

Some of the most common reasons for a detention include disruptive behavior, swearing/cursing, being  tardy to class too many times, disrespect, and just about anything that you shouldn’t do in the classroom.

Detentions are a last ditch effort after other forms of discipline and accountability have been already been given.

Before a detention a teacher may try contacting a parent/guardian about behavior and work with them to minimize the disruption so that a detention is never issued.

Another strategy to try before giving a detention is giving the student a warning and talking to them about why they are being disruptive.

Honestly, a detention is bad for the student as well as the teacher.

Well the teacher also has to stay with the student in detention after school and can’t go home until the detention ends!

Good grief!

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I (Allen) am currently teaching at a public school in a western suburb of Chicago. My teaching career started in 2004. Some of my interests outside of teaching is being with my family, biking, playing video games, travelling, and making the Teacher Adviser website.

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  • Classroom Management

Homework Detention

  • Thread starter kms116
  • Start date Aug 1, 2008

Junior Member

  • Aug 1, 2008

Our school started a homework detention policy last year for 3rd-6th graders. If a student has a late or missing assignment, they must stay after school for 30 min. that same day if possible. Needless to say, this has caused countless problems with parents. Many of them work out of town and have to take time off to come pick up their kids, and most are upset about the short notice we give them. The policy is here to stay, so does anyone have any suggestions about dealing with parents?  


Senior Member

hw See, that's an easy solution to me - the parents need to make sure their child does their homework! Easy enough. Sorry if I sound uncaring, but I get tired of parents acting like we're inconveniencing them by making them become a responsible parent. Of course, I wouldn't necessarily say those words - maybe something like, "I'm sorry it's inconvenient for you. Did you not check their homework last night? Maybe you can come up with a homework routine that works in your home."  


We do ours during the lunch recess time. They eat their lunch without talking and then finish their homework. If they get it done before the end of recess they may go out.  


Full Member

Here is an interesting article you may want to share with your principal. http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6397407.html Here is another: http://teachers.net/gazette/FEB08/kohn/  

thanks Great articles! I'll pass them on.  

detention We have a form that covers missing homework, signed papers not returned, unprepared for class, no supplies, etc., called a Work Deficiency. After 5 of these, the student has to come to a detention on Thursday morning from 7:30-8:00. Doesn't incovenience the parents as much if they are going to work. Your system has immediate consequences (I kind of like that!).  


I too get tired of parental excuses, but given detention the same day AFTER SCHOOL does seem unfair to me, and if I were a parent I would be hot headed over it as well. There are many students I have who occasionally miss assignments, and the parent IS ON TOP OF THINGS. One time a girl who had been so responsible, told her dad she was doing her homework. This had never been an issue in the past, so dad didn't question her. When I pushed the issue a little, she finally admitted the truth. She made herself look busy when she wasn't. Her mom and dad were horrified, she served several days of detention ( ours is held during recess time). The middle schools and high schools here have after school detention, but you serve on certain days the next week for infractions. This allows the parents to make the appropriate arrangements. You say this is here to say, so I would suggest students have homework logs or agendas that get signed every afternoon by you once homework is written in there, and by parents once they have seen the finished product. Other than that, my only advice is make sure parents and students know upfront about the policy. When you give short notices like that, there will be problems not everyone works at jobs were they can rearrange their schedule on a 4-5 hour notice. That most certainly does not mean that parents are making excuses for their children, or aren't doing their part in their children's education. In my district, if a principal made this decision and the parent could not come til 6:00 because of work, then someone at our school would just have to sit and wait til the parents could get there. You have to be reasonable in your policies if you want parental support.  


I hold our after school DT. However, in order to get assigned to an after school, the student has to have missed three assignments and the DT is assigned after the 4th. It is not the same day. Our detention is held on Monday and Tuesday and a form is sent home notifying the parent and making sure the student has a ride home. The parent signs the letter and student returns it. When a responsible student ends up in DT , I get an apology for having to stay and 99.9% of the time I'm told that I won't see them again. The student will do the work. However, I always get frequent-flyers" and generally their parents are late picking them up and they have to be called again..  


  • Aug 2, 2008

At our school, detention slips are sent home to the parents. (Our detention is "third strike you get detention" with warning slips sent home after each offense. The detentions does not come as a surprise.) The parents are given a choice between two dates within the next week for their child's after school time. There have been no confrontations on picking up children. Our school has done this for many years.  


This year, we are starting an after school homework detention. At the beginning of every period, the teacher marks who hasn't done their homework, and the sheet gets sent to the office. Each class period, the office sends an automated phone call to the parents telling them that the child did not do homework and will need to come to homework detention that day after school. The parents can get up to 6 phone calls a day! I love it because the parents can no longer put it off on the teacher. Plus, the kids are walking distance from home, and there are no buses anyway, so they can stay after school the same day. If they don't come, then there will be further consequences.  

homework and punishment I have been a teacher and i am returning to teaching after being a stay-at-home mom for some years. I disagree with the idea that you need to punish parents for not being responsible by punishing their children. Where is the attitude of "I am here to help children to learn and to love learning?" If my child were in a school where they would be given detention for not turning in homework (do you have any idea what is going on in the home? NO!), I would immediately withdraw my child and homeschool them. They don't need that kind of stress in elementary school. I don't think it's a teacher or principal's job to enforce parental responsibility. What if that child's family has a family member just diagnosed with cancer? Or another child in the family who is in and out of the hospital (this happened to us this year, and my son was so stressed that he couldn't concentrate and I certainly couldn't either)? Or parents going through a divorce? Or maybe the child is struggling and just doesn't want to admit how hard the work is for him? I would not want to be a teacher in that kind of a school either, because I just think it's wrong. I would be as stressed as the kids, and I think this would create a very hostile environment between the school and home. I think home reading, spelling and math fact practice is important, but not to the detriment of family life. People are not irresponsible just because homework doesn't get done. I think the vast majority of "education" should happen in school, with just a little supplementing at home. After all, we have the kids for more than 6-6 1/2 hours a day, add in the 30 minutes to an hour getting back and forth to school and you don't leave families much time to anything!  

Homework club By the way, our school handles this much more positively. We have an afterschool homework "club" instead of detention. It is voluntary. But if one of our students is not completing homework, then we can call the parents and let them know their child is not completing their homework and that I'd love to have him attend homework club where he can get the extra help he needs to finish it. In this context, they're usually grateful to avail themselves of the opportunity. The child doesn't necessarily want to attend of course :-), and if that's the case they'll start doing their work on time so they don't have to go. Again, it's voluntary and presented as a "we're helping you" instead of a punishment and that makes all the difference.  

Lefty you had many good points but your arguing about extreme circumstances, and I think most of us would work with students in those instances. The difficult part of being a teacher is balancing that compassion with the structure that students need. In my school, many students have parents serving in Iraq, however, their parents will be the first to tell you that homework is to be completed every night- no exceptions. They don't want their students to begin to take advantage of the situation. Their are special circumstances like returning home that they student will be excused for the night, but usually it is their parents who make them do it later anyhow. Many students will be able to pick up on what they are to learn from simply participating in class, many more need extra time to work with the material and practice outside of school. I agree family time is important. It's a shame teachers often give so much of theirs up for their students, and no one comes to defend us about it.  


  • May 20, 2009

"being responsible" sometimes when you're trying to keep a foor over their head (and their siblings) and provide food on a daily basis its not always possible to check homework every night because when i come in at night i hjave to cook and clean and do washing before bathing smaller children and putting them to bed. sometimes i have to put trust in the other child to do their homework on their own! so sorry if i dont seem to care about what the teacher thinks about me when i am doing my best but i suppose thats me not being a responsible parent!  

  • May 22, 2009

School has to be a shared partnership. But, I would hestitate to say that a parent is uninvolved if their child does not do homework, because there really are times when life just gets in the way. However, if work is not being completed in school, then the school needs to provide a time for them to do it. We also need to keep in mind that such short notice can create an unreasonable burden on a parent. The noon study hall pretty much works for us. Before we went to the noon studyhall, we gave them until the next day to finish it, along with a form that needed to be signed by the parents to show that they were aware that homework was not completed. If we did not receive the homework and form back the next day, they had to stay after school that day to catch up.  

  • Dec 14, 2009

Working Lunch We conduct a Lunch/Homework time. Students get their lunches 5 or 6 minutes earlier and go to another room within the school and do their homework as soon as they are finished eating lunch. It's a working lunch.  

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after school homework detention

  • Childcare and parenting
  • Schools and education

Behaviour in schools: sanctions and exclusions

School behaviour policy.

Every school must publish a behaviour policy. It should be available on their website. If not, you can ask to see it. It explains:

  • what’s expected of pupils
  • what happens if they misbehave
  • what the school does to prevent bullying

It also covers misbehaviour outside of school. For example, misbehaviour when travelling to and from school.

You can ask the school for a copy of their behaviour policy document.

Schools can sanction (sometimes called punish) pupils if they misbehave.

Examples of sanctions include:

  • a verbal warning
  • a letter home
  • removal from a classroom

Schools do not have to give notice to parents for after-school detention so long as the pupil can get home safely after. They should consider individual circumstances.

Mobile phones

Each school will have its own policy on mobile phones. Schools are allowed to stop pupils using their mobiles for all or part of the school day as part of their school rules.

Online behaviour

Schools may sanction pupils if their online behaviour is threatening or causes harm to another pupil. They may also sanction a pupil if their behaviour online impacts the school environment.

Use of reasonable force

School staff can use reasonable force if necessary to protect pupils or others from harm. They can also use it to stop pupils from causing damage or disruption.

Reasonable force includes physical restraint such as leading a pupil by the arm out of a classroom.

Complaining about a sanction

If you disagree with the way your child’s been sanctioned, first talk to the headteacher. If you’re not satisfied, ask for a copy of the complaints procedure.

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Should teachers be able to keep pupils in detention after school as punishment?

Detention has long been a part of school life, but what are the rules on keeping pupils after the bell?

  • 19:39, 15 SEP 2019
  • Updated 13:32, 23 SEP 2019

after school homework detention

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We're well and truly into the new school term and for some fresh starters it can all take a bit of adjusting to.

Parents of high school pupils face particular challenges as children are given more independence.

And with secondary school comes the prospect of detention too, but with schools choosing to punish pupils in different ways, mums and dads aren't always clear on what to expect.

We've been asking parents for their experiences and views and it seems not everyone agrees on what sort of punishment is acceptable.

after school homework detention

We're launching our Manchester Family newsletter, which will bring all the latest family stories and events straight to your email address once a week. Sign up here .

Legally a teacher can give a child detention without giving parents any notice, or explaining why the detention has been given.

They do, however, have to take the welfare of children into account so they're not being put at risk.

In reality most schools do give advance notice to parents and Manchester families told us this is the least they would expect.

Mum-of-two Jenna Carter said: "Parents should be given at least 24 hours' notice as they may have other children to collect, may have paid for a child minder to collect their child, or asked another parent to walk their child home.

"If I'm running late due to traffic on my way home I call my hubby so he doesn't worry, if my child got kept back and I didn't know where they were I'd be phoning people going mad."

Katie Berry wasn't notified when her son was given a detention for forgetting his homework and said: "It’s very wrong in my opinion. I think it’s wrong not to tell the parents first, furthermore my son isn’t allowed to use his phone on school premises, which is understandable, but how is he supposed to let me know he’ll be late home."

after school homework detention

Debbie Nield said she too would expect at least 24 hours' notice, saying: "As some children are reliant on school bus for transport, on the day detentions are tricky, and would be unfair to treat the children differently."

And Natalie Titherington agreed: "It's a nightmare if you are collecting children for pre paid clubs or on route to work. A system for following day minimum would be better."

Mum Jodie Ditcher's son Cody, 12, was given a detention just last week for forgetting his reading book at Alder Community High School in Hyde.

after school homework detention

She feels it's a fair system as it's 'more effective' to have the detention on the same day, but says it's easier for them as they don't live too far from school.

"I have an app on my phone which connects with the school, if he is getting a detention it sends a message to my phone," she said.

"It means he misses the school bus but that's half the punishment as he has to walk home."

after school homework detention

Jodie, from Hattersley, added: "I think it's better to have the detention when it's all fresh. He didn't have his book, even though I had told him. If he would have had another warning he probably would have forgotton again, but after his detention he came straight back home and the first thing he did was put a book into his bag so he didn't forget again."

Mum and teacher Rebecca Wood say her school recently got rid of after-school detentions as they were having little effect.

She said: "Now pupils are given a half-hour lunch detention for poor behaviour and non-completion of homework.

"They hate this far more, as they lose social time with their friends.

"They obviously still get half an hour to eat lunch. We’ve found the threat of lunch detention makes them knuckle down more in class and detention numbers have dwindled.

"As a parent I also think I’d prefer this as it’s dealt with in the school day and does not impact on the rest of the family for pick ups and after school clubs."

after school homework detention

Another teacher from a high school in Bury said her school gives parents 24 hours' notice via a letter and believes it's a 'very effective punishment' - initially acting as a deterent but then helping to tackle any deeper issues.

"The detention often gives the teacher time with the pupil to talk about how they got the detention, how to avoid it in the future and the opportunity to mend any fences," she said.

"It can also give the young person an opportunity to talk to the teacher about anything they may be worried about.

"Also, if any other pupils are involved, they feel the matter has been addressed and been taken seriously. We don't like giving detentions out."

  • Manchester Family

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So what does the law say?

David Connor, a director and head of family law at WHN Solicitors, which has seven offices across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, said: “Schools have the legal right to impose after-school detention, without telling parents the reason for the detention or giving advance notice.

“Each school has its own behaviour policy to regulate the conduct of its pupils. In here it’ll be outlined how students are expected to behave, punishment for bad behaviour and how the school will enforce these disciplinary procedures, including detention.

after school homework detention

“By sending children to a school, parents are effectively agreeing to its behaviour policy, so it’s important to be familiar with the document. Parents can request a copy of the policy document, and if the school is owned and funded by a Local Authority, the policy should sit on its website too.

“While it’s not a legal requirement for schools to give parents advance notice of out of hours detentions, it’s a broad policy and doesn’t take individual circumstances into account.

"If detention puts your child’s welfare at risk - for example they miss the last bus home - you may be able to challenge the school and ask for any future detentions to be deferred to a later date, but this is at the discretion of each school.”

The M.E.N approached Alder Community High School for a comment.

For more family content follow Manchester Family on Facebook at www.facebook.com/familymanchester or on Twitter and Instagram @familymanc.

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after school homework detention


Detentions allows you to issue, share and track detentions set by staff.

An extension of the Class Charts Behaviour module.

  • Customise your detentions to fit current school policy
  • Attach Class Charts detentions to Class Charts behaviours for consistency
  • Automate your detentions with Intel Events
  • Our “upscale” feature means missed detentions don’t get lost and get escalated within the system.
  • Issued detentions feed into both pupil and parent accounts
  • A dedicated detentions section in Analytics

Flexible and bespoke detentions to match your schools policy

The Class Charts Detentions module has the flexibility to replicate your schools detentions policy. Create bespoke detentions complete with detention location, duration and start time to ensure that staff, pupils and parents are kept up-to-date with detention details.

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