Student files $150M racial discrimination lawsuit against Bloomfield Hills School District

High school students, parents say administration not doing enough to address racist incidents

A lawsuit has been filed against the Bloomfield Hills School District over racist incidents and alleged lack of action.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – A student and their parents are suing the Bloomfield Hills School District for millions of dollars over alleged racial discrimination following a string of racist incidents reported at the high school.

A 15-year-old Bloomfield Hills High School student and her parents filed a $150 million federal class-action lawsuit Thursday against the school district, as well as superintendent Patrick Watson and high school principal Charlie Hollerith, alleging racial discrimination after several incidents of racism reportedly went largely unaddressed.

“As students of color, Plaintiffs and their parents have experienced racist, unfair, hurtful and at times dangerous interactions at BHHS at the hands of both white staff and students,” the family’s attorneys wrote.

The instances of racism reported at the high school were laid out in the lawsuit, with several photos taken from students’ social media accounts included as evidence.

One photo shows a Black doll with a noose around its neck, hanging from the second floor down to the first floor.

Other photos depict racist writing on bathroom walls in the school. One message read “kill all (n-word),” while another read “all the (n-word) should be dead.”

There’s also a Snapchat photo from a student in the lawsuit, showing writing that reads “I hate (n-word), they need to be extinguished.”

The lawsuit claims that the school district and its administrators are not handling the situation at all.

“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,” the lawsuit reads.

You can read the entire lawsuit below. Attorneys for the family suing the school district are expected to hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Friday to discuss the lawsuit.

The district’s school board held a meeting Thursday night, in which other parents made their concerns about the issue very clear.

“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,” one parent said.

" ... 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,” another parent said.

Last week, a large number of Bloomfield High School students staged a walkout from the school to protest the recent racist incidents. The students said that the school administration is not doing enough to address the incidents -- an issue that they say has been happening for years -- and they are afraid to go to school.

“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.”

The district held a community event earlier this week to publicly address the racist incidents at the high school. Both superintendent Watson and principal Hollerith apologized at the meeting, while listening to frustrated parents and students share how they feel about the situation.

At the meeting, students told the administration that the incidents are common and that they do not feel safe at school. Parents say that what the students are experiencing and decrying is nothing new.

“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.”

Bloomfield Hills Schools superintendent Watson previously released the following video in response to the situation:

Bloomfield High School releases statement regarding response to racist incidents.

See the entire lawsuit in the document below:

About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.