Bloomfield Hills High School principal resigns following assembly controversy

Lawrence Stroughter first placed on leave in March

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – The principal of Bloomfield Hills High School has resigned following a controversy that first had him placed on leave last month.

High school Principal Lawrence Stroughter has officially resigned from his position after just over a year in the role, according to the April 27 board of education meeting agenda published on the district’s website. The reasoning for Stroughter’s resignation is listed as “personal.”

Stroughter had been placed on leave at the end of March after the high school came under fire following a controversial assembly. Some members of the community called for prominent district figures like Stroughter to resign after a Palestinian American activist spoke during a diversity assembly in a community with a significant Jewish population.

Members of the community criticized the school for allowing Huwaida Arraf, an attorney and well-known pro-Palestinian activist, to speak during a 10th grade assembly and called her remarks antisemitic. Arraf said, however, that criticizing Israeli policies toward Palestinians is not antisemitism.

“I am very much a part of the fight against antisemitism and all forms of racism and discrimination, and I came to speak as part of a diversity panel assembly talking about the dangers of racism and making people feel excluded,” Arraf said.

Soon after the assembly, Stroughter issued an apology to the community that did not name Arraf, but did blame her, “the speaker,” for allegedly deviating from what they had agreed to talk about.

Former Superintendent Patrick Watson also issued a letter to the community amid the controversy, saying the district “made a mistake” and accepts responsibility for “failing to guide our student organizers properly.”

“We have identified significant areas for improvement and we acknowledge we need to do better,” Watson wrote last month. “We deeply regret that our process failed our students and created division in our school. None of our students should carry the burden of this -- it falls squarely on the district.”

Watson has also resigned from his position with Bloomfield Hills Schools for “personal reasons,” which he announced on April 18. In his resignation announcement -- which he classified as a retirement, though it is described as a resignation in the school board’s meeting notes -- Watson didn’t mention anything about the assembly controversy.

About the Author:

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