Teen strip searched for vape pen • Flu outbreak and student death closes Detroit school • Ethnic intimidation

The family of an eighth-grade Detroit girl is suing her school-- after they say she was inappropriately searched for a vape pen.

"The only thing she kept telling me was mom I thought I was going to get in trouble," said Yvette Dinwiddie.

The mother is speaking out with her attorney in hopes that no other child has to suffer the same fate as her daughter.

"We allege in the lawsuit that the school administration strip-searched Ms. Dinwiddie's eighth-grade daughter while looking for a vape pen," said Attorney Hannah Fielstra.

The child’s mom says it happened at George Crockett Academy. The vape pen was alleged to be in her child’s underwear.

"She was embarrassed - excuse me guys - she was on her cycle," said Dinwiddie.

The mother said she was never contacted by the school to do a search, or that her child might have a vape pen.

"They could have called me, and especially before the strip thing," her mother said. "If she was smoking I should be the first one to know."

The lawsuit claims the school leader authorized two staff members to strip-search the girl after already searching her backpack, locker, and coat jacket, and not finding anything. The attorney also says the school told the mom this about the search:

"That her daughter voluntarily removed pieces of her clothing to prove her innocence which is untrue," said Fielstra.

The complaint also states Dinwiddie’s child was the victim of bullying, something the school was aware of and the student who made the vape allegations had been at odds with her daughter.

"You (are) letting these kids go around bully each other, fight each other, lie on each other - that's dangerous," Dinwiddie said.

After the strip search was conducted, a vape pen was never found and the student was not disciplined. Dinwiddie says she has filed a police report and pulled her daughter and other children from the school.

"They're not going back there," she said. "I don't even trust them."

Mom Yvette Dinwiddie, left, and attorney Hannah Fielstra

Mom Yvette Dinwiddie, left, and attorney Hannah Fielstra

FOX 2 contacted the Leona Group which manages the charter school and was told that due to legal privacy, there would be no comment

This mom and her attorney say the lawsuit it’s necessary, so others can learn from this lesson.

"It’s important for the school and the staff to know the bounds of the Fourth Amendment and what type of searches are permissible under those types of circumstances," said the attorney. "Because in this case, a strip search was not permissible." 

Flu outbreak, child's death closes Detroit school

Health officials closed a Detroit school to deep-clean the building after a flu outbreak among students led to an abnormally high number of sick kids the past few weeks. Along with the wave of illnesses was reported death at Marcus Garvey Academy after a kindergartner died, the Detroit Public Schools Community District confirmed, though it's unclear if the child died from the flu.

"Tragically, last week one of our kindergarten students at Marcus Garvey passed away. At this time, the medical examiner has not determined the cause of death," the district said in a statement.

The school's statement also added that students were exhibiting high rates of fever and vomiting. Marcus Garvey Academy will reopen on Monday. A pediatrician told FOX 2 that it was "a bit unusual" that cases of the flu were being reported at such a high rate. 

"Now that said, you can see flu really any time of the year.," said Dr. Kevin Dazy with Children's Hospital of Michigan. "I don't think it's necessarily surprising, but it's a reminder we have to be washing our hands, be careful of reporting symptoms kids have, so it's not spreading rapidly from child to child."

Read more here.

Woman charged after vandalizing Royal Oak synagogue

A 35-year-old Clinton Township woman was arraigned Wednesday morning after authorities say she spray-painted a Swastika on a Royal Oak synagogue.

Randi Lucille Nord is charged with ethnic intimidation and malicious destruction of property. If convicted, she could spend up to two years in prison for the ethnic intimidation charge.

She was arrested May 1 in Farmington Hills after the Woodward Shul was vandalized on April 27. The Oakland County Prosecutor said hate crimes were on the rise, adding her office would prosecute "these offenses to the fullest extent of the law.

Randi Nord

"I formed the Hate Crimes Unit to handle cases like this and to ensure that we have the necessary resources and training to hold individuals accountable for committing hate crimes," said Prosecutor Karen McDonald.

Read the full story here.

Protesters call for accountability against DTE

With one of Michigan's largest utility companies expected to hold their shareholder meeting this week, protesters gathered in the shadow of DTE Energy's headquarters in Detroit and called on the company to remove the directors involved in political spending and oversight.

Among those in the crowd was U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib who accused the company of pushing through the highest rate increases in the county despite having an unreliable power grid. "Investor-owned utilities will always put profits over our people," Tlaib said this week.

The winter outages that lasted days for hundreds of thousands in Metro Detroit has the congresswoman wondering why Michigan? Other Midwest states have similar weather but not nearly the number of outages. DTE released a statement saying it follows all laws regarding reporting of lobbying expenses."

"In addition, DTE's expenses toward lobbying, political contributions and memberships are reported annually to the Michigan Public Service Commission and are not included in rates charged to customers."

Read more here.

Michigan Democrats push to protect abortion workers' rights

Michigan Democrats continued efforts to protect abortion rights Wednesday as the state Legislature advanced a bill that would outlaw companies from retaliating against employees for receiving abortions.

The bill passed along party lines in the Michigan House after previously having been approved by the Senate in March. It would amend the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights act to prohibit employers from treating a worker differently for terminating a pregnancy.

"No one should lose their job or have to worry about their employment when making a decision that relates solely to their bodily autonomy," said Democratic Rep. Felicia Brabec of Ann Arbor. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the legislation, and has emerged as a leader in the movement to protect abortion rights.

Dr. Sarah Wallett, Michigan’s chief medical operating officer, testified in March during a Senate committee hearing in favor of the legislation.

Courtesy of the Associated Press

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The weather is turning around as we expect to eclipse 60 degrees on Thursday. Along with the warmer temperatures, the rain will finally lay off and the sun should poke out.

What else we're watching

  1. A Detroit hygienist has taken her dental practice on the road. See Deena Alexander's mobile teeth cleaning unit here.
  2. A proposed bailout of Highland Park's water debt was unveiled in the legislature Wednesday. Lawmakers offered a $20 million to pay off the debt. It passed a subcommittee with a 13-6 vote.
  3. The agenda for the annual Mackinac Policy Conference will be released Thursday from the Detroit Regional Chamber. The 2023 meeting, once a massive gathering of public officials and business and industry reps, it's taken off a different tone as political disagreements have continued to weigh on the state.
  4. Shane Evans, who was convicted in the murder of Egypt Covington, is expected to be sentenced today. The other two charged in her murder have elected to go to a jury trial.
  5. The Taylor Police Department is looking for the family of Laura B. Johnson, whose gravestone came into their possession this week. They'd like to return it to her family. 

Americans plan to spend 24% less on Mother’s Day this year due to inflation

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and many consumers will hit the stores to find the perfect gift to show their appreciation for their moms. But a new survey shows many people are cutting back this year on the amount they spend on a special present.

Lending Tree conducted an online poll of 2,000 people between the ages of 18 to 77 in April and learned that approximately 57% of respondents said inflation is impacting how much they're willing to spend for Mother’s Day gifts.

Sixty-two percent of millennials (ages 27 to 42) said inflation factors into their Mother’s Day spending budget, followed by Gen Zers (18 to 26) at 56%, Gen Xers (ages 43 to 58) at 52%, and Baby boomers (ages 59 to 77) at 46%.