A high school goes remote for 2 days after lawsuit claims racism

The district superintendent and high school principal are named as co-defendants in the $150 million filing.
By: | November 22, 2021
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Students at Bloomfield Hills High School shifted to remote learning Monday and Tuesday after a family filed a $150 million lawsuit alleging “dangerous racism,” according to published reports.

Parents Cedric McCarrall and Carmen Davidson-McCarrall sued the Bloomfield Hills School District in suburban Detroit on behalf of their 15-year-old daughter and other African American students who have experienced “serious, malicious and racist pronouncements and threats of death and bodily injury,” according to a copy of the lawsuit posted by ClickOnDetroit.com.

“As students of color, the Plaintiffs and their parents have experienced racist, unfair, hurtful and at times dangerous interactions at BHHS,” says the lawsuit, using the school’s acronym. “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 the Plaintiffs’ safety.”

The lawsuit, which names the district superintendent and high school principal as co-defendants, also alleges that students of color face disproportionately severe discipline compared to white students. It says Caucasian students receive informal punishments while African American students are more likely to be suspended or expelled.

The suit demands that the district investigate racist threats, warn students that any discriminatory actions will be disciplined, provide anti-racism training to staff, and appoint a psychologist to review Bloomfield schools’ policies. It also alleges a series of racist incidents that occurred at the high school, including a Black doll hung by a noose and dragged down a hallway, violent graffiti containing racial slurs, and bullying.

Last week, hundreds of students walked out of class to protest the types of offensive behavior claimed in the lawsuit, The Oakland Press reported.

The closure will allow the district and building administrators to gather with staff for a discussion of recent incidents at the high school, Director of Communications Karen Huyghe told District Administration. Staff are using materials from Learning for Justice.

This transition allowed the District and building administration to gather with high school staff for professional development and an open dialogue on recent incidents at the school. In addition to informing staff on incident details, faculty reviewed materials from Learning for Justice and resources about recognizing bias in the classrooms, Huyghe said.

“Our work, along with further reflection, rest and healing, will continue [Tuesday], as our faculty prepare for reentering their classrooms with students next week,” Huyghe said. “We know the district will emerge stronger and better as a result of these conversations, undeterred from its commitment to all students and facilitate a school environment of safety and support for every student.”