High school students walkout over racist postings
By Lisa Brody
Students at Bloomfield Hills High School plan a school-wide walkout today, Friday, November 12, protesting what they view as inadequate discipline by school officials of students for hate speech written on bathroom walls in the school and on social media accounts.
According to reports from students and parents, racists hate speech, including use of the “N” word, was written on walls of the bathrooms of the high school, and the offending students were given a three-day suspension. The student body objects to what they view as an inadequate punishment for the offense.
“The student body does not feel it was enough to fit the crime, so there is a student-led walkout this afternoon,” said a Bloomfield Hills High School parent, who asked that her name not be used. “The school is trying to do assemblies to help the kids.”
Bloomfield Township police have been on site all week, and will be at the walkout this afternoon.
There are also reports of homophobic incidents directed at students which took place at the school's homecoming. Allegedly the offending students were sent home.
According to a statement from district director of communications Karen Huyghe, “The district is aware of racist hate speech written on the walls of our restrooms and shared on private social media accounts this week. We launched an immediate investigation with the assistance of the Bloomfield Township Police Department. Hate speech and racist behavior will not be tolerated and does not represent our mission as a school or the high standards we hold for our students and ourselves.
“Some immediate actions regarding this reprehensible incident include grade level meetings to address emotional impact of hate speech and the legal repercussions, counseling and social work support, staff meetings and training, and opportunities for student and community dialogues. Our ongoing efforts, like the Student Equity Council, the Student Senate, and Global Education Team, have been working specifically on policy and procedures related to incidents of hate.”
Huyghe could not comment on how many students had been involved with the hate speech incidents, nor on any disciplinary actions.
“Each incident is unique and the district follow appropriate laws and process,” she said.
In light of the various racial, ethnic and homophobic incidents, the district is hosting a Community Collaboration Event to move anti-racism work forward on Tuesday, November 16, at 6 p.m. at Bloomfield Hills High School.
“We recognize that we need help from our community and that there is significant work to do,” Huyghe said. “We invite all of our district partners to join us, including students, parents, law enforcement, community members, media, clergy and religious leaders, and local and state officials. If we are going to see changes in our community, and across our state and country, we need all of us to come together to work toward a common goal.”
The event will begin with an hour of community conversation and brainstorming, facilitated by an external partner. Following this initial session, participants will move into small groups formed to further discuss ideas.