Racist postings reported to police; lawsuit filed
Bloomfield Township police reported that Bloomfield Hills Schools Administration had notified them on Monday, November 15, regarding racist social media messages and on Wednesday, November 10, racist graffiti in a bathroom at Bloomfield Hills High School. At the same time, a Black student has filed a federal lawsuit against the school district and the high school over how racial complaints have been handled.
Lt. Paul Schwab of the Bloomfield Township Police Department reported that a second incident of racist graffiti in a bathroom was reported on Thursday, November 11.
All of the incidents are under police investigation. At this time, they said they have no further comment or information to release. They are asking anyone with information to contact them at 248.433.7755.
“The Bloomfield Township Police Department will continue to provide extra patrols in and around our schools to ensure student safety,” Bloomfield Township Police Captain James Gallagher said.
Both reports followed a school-wide student walkout at Bloomfield Hills High School on Friday, November 12, where students protested what they view as inadequate discipline by school officials towards 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, had been written on walls of the bathrooms of the high school, and the offending students were given a three-day suspension. The student body objected to what they view as an inadequate punishment for the offense.
Meanwhile, a $115 million class-action was reportedly filed Thursday, November 18, in U.S. District Court against Bloomfield Hills Schools Superintendent Pat Watson and the principal of the high school by an unnamed Black student, claiming violation of both federal and state civil rights laws for the district's failure to respond to complaints of racism and ensuring the safety of students. Further details on the lawsuit, first reported by The Detroit News, were not immediately available.
On Tuesday, November 16, the Bloomfield Hills Schools district held a community collaboration event on anti-racist intervention. Superintendent Watson said the purpose of the event was “to apologize to our community members who have been harmed, allow multiple voices from our community to be heard, and gather ideas from our stakeholders… It was a difficult and emotional conversation. We are feeling the weight of the work that lies ahead… I am deeply sorry for the harm that is caused to our community.”
He said next steps are to continue working with student groups; review questionnaires from the community; continue to formulate a plan of action with district leadership in the coming weeks; and share an update on progress before the students begin winter break.