A school in an affluent Michigan suburb is hit with a racial discrimination lawsuit.
A 15-year-old Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, high school student and her parents have filed a $150 million federal class action lawsuit against the district alleging the high school student has been racially discriminated against for a long time. The suit also names superintendent of the high school, Patrick Watson, as well as principal, Charlie Hollerith, as defendants.
Numerous photos taken from students’ social media accounts were included as evidence, one of which depicts “a Black doll with a noose around its neck, hanging from the second floor down to the first floor.” A message written on one of the school’s bathroom walls reads “kill all (n-word),” while another reads “all the (n-word) should be dead.” There’s also a Snapchat image from a student with writing that reads “I hate (n-word), they need to be extinguished.”
The student’s family claims administrators have turned a blind eye to what is happening both on and off of school grounds. The lawsuit states, “Despite being notified of race discrimination and related injustices by students and parents, Defendant has failed and continues to fail to take steps reasonably calculated to stop the discrimination and ensure Plaintiff’s safety.”
“As students of color, plaintiffs and their parents have experienced racist, unfair, hurtful and at times dangerous interactions at [Bloomfield Hills] at the hands of both white staff and students,” the lawsuit says. “Despite being notified of race discrimination and related injustices by students and parents, [the] defendant has failed and continues to fail to take steps reasonably calculated to stop the discrimination and ensure [the] plaintiff’s safety.”
At a recent school board meeting, a parent of a student not included in the suit stated, “I can’t believe that there were direct threats made against Black people at the high school – to ‘kill all (n-word)’ – and you guys did nothing about it.”
Another parent joined in, “And then I find out later that there are threats that all Black people should be killed? I can’t make a credible assessment if my children are safe. What should I do? That has to change.”
A number of Bloomfield High School students also engaged in a planned walk-out one day over the allegations, in order to protest racial slurs, and the of these students told administrators that they are “not responding adequately” to the blatant issues that have been ongoing.
“I don’t know what I’ve ever done to any of the students here to make them feel like we are so inferior that we must die, or that we must leave the school, or something like that,” said freshman Madison Williams. “It’s just really hurtful and I’m in fear for my life, honestly.”
Superintendent Watson and principal Hollerith both apologized at a follow-up meeting held to address the concerns of the board. During that time, students told the administration that these things are common and that they do not feel safe.
“They’ve been telling the same story for a long time,” said parent Samuel Walker. “The administration has heard this before. It remains to be seen if things are gonna change.”