Parent calls for more security at Bloomfield Hills High School over threats

Just a day after a deadly mass shooting at Oxford High School a parent of an African American student at Bloomfield Hills High School and his attorney renewed calls for state and local officials to beef up security because of what they said is the possibility of violence at the school.

During a Wednesday news conference, Metro Detroit attorney Leonard Mungo and Cedric McCarrall, whose daughter attends Bloomfield Hills High School, urged the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, local police, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others to get involved in making sure Black students at the high school are kept safe from alleged racist threats.

They want stepped-up police protection at the school as well as metal detectors to ensure students, teachers and other students at the school remain safe.

"There's no excuse," said Mungo "This must be done to secure that high school to prevent another shooting tragedy."

Bloomfield Hills High School Principal Charlie Hollerith speaks during a community meeting at Bloomfield Hills High School over alleged racial incidents on Nov. 16, 2021. Cedric McCarrall, whose daughter attends the high school, urged the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, local police, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others to get involved in making sure Black students at the high school are kept safe from threats. McCarrall and his daughter have filed a $150 million class-action lawsuit against the school district.

"There is a threat inside that building to kill Black girls and Black boys," said McCarrall, who said he kept his daughter, a sophomore, out of school Wednesday out of fear. 

The Sheriff's office didn't respond Wednesday to a request for comment. Messages seeking comment were also left Wednesday with the school district, Bloomfield Township Police Chief Phil Langmeyer and Whitmer's office.

Jennifer Matlow, acting president for the district’s Board of Education, defended how the school district was treating the issue last month after a student protest.  

“The Board denounces and deplores all expressions of racism and other forms of hatred and intolerance in our community,” Matlow said in a statement in mid-November. “We fully support all of the current and planned efforts of our Superintendent, administration, and teaching staff in addressing these events which are deeply disturbing to all of us who serve in education. Our students always need to feel safe, valued, loved, and cared for when they come to school, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure this is our school environment.”  

Mungo, who has filed a $150 million federal class-action lawsuit against school officials on behalf of McCarrall and his daughter, who is referred to only as "SM" in court records, claims they have failed to take action against "racial bullying" at the school and on social media.

He produced a copy of an email he says was sent to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard late Monday evening about the fears that parents like McCarrall  have over ongoing threats against African American students at the school.

"I would like an opportunity to share with you the deep-seated fear that my clients and their children about being physically harmed and or killed (solely because they are African Americans) while attending at Bloomfield Hills High School. I would like to discuss your ability and willingness to assist the School District and local Police Department in providing adequate man power to secure the school building in a manner that would afford protection to the children and their parents from what appears to be ongoing imminent threats of bodily harm and or death," the emailed letter read.

McCarrall called on Whitmer for help saying "Governor, we need assistance here in Bloomfield Hills."

McCarrall said one police car stationed outside the school is not enough to allay the fears that parents like himself feel. McCarrall implored authorities to get involved in putting more police inside the building and pressing police and the Oakland County Sheriff's Department to launch a hard investigation into who is behind the threats.

"The writing is on the wall," said McCarrall. "Please, we're begging you. We need your help here."

Officials at the majority-White school district faced criticism recently for their response to racist graffiti and social media messages, which prompted a student walkout and a community forum.

The district, Superintendent Patrick Watson and high school Principal Charlie Hollerith are named in the suit. 

The girl, according to the lawsuit, complained to a White counselor about a red-lipped Black doll hanging from a noose that recently had appeared over a second-floor banister and was told it had been part of a science project.

The teen claimed she reported a White classmate she said used a racial slur but a teacher responded by saying it was “only dark humor” and meted out no punishment.

A message on a bathroom wall encouraged killing all Black people, although it used a racial slur to refer to skin color.

Meanwhile, social media posts circulated among students are “replete with expressions of racial hatred of Whites toward African Americans with consistent expressions of threats and suggestions to carry out acts of physical violence against African American students and parents,” the lawsuit said.

In a statement last month, district representatives said: "We cannot comment on the specifics of pending litigation. Most importantly, irrespective of any legal filings, the topic of equity and inclusion will continue to be a top priority for Bloomfield Hills Schools, as it has for the past several years. 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.

During the community forum last month that drew hundreds to the high school, Watson and Hollerith repeatedly apologized and allowed dozens of students and parents to voice their concerns and offer recommendations.

The superintendent and principal said during a community forum last month that hate speech would not be tolerated and said school officials immediately reported the racist messages to police.

"I am encouraged by the work the students and staff are doing together, but it’s clear we must improve relations between students and administrators, have clearer communications, better transparency and a revision of current policies," Hollerith told an audience of hundreds.