A developing story.
Stacy Gittleman Contributing Writer
Bloomfield Hills High School, along with local authorities, are investigating alleged anti-Semitic incidents that have recently occurred at the school, mainly through social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.
On the evening of Dec. 5, BHHS Principal Charlie Hollerith issued an email to high school families notifying them of an incident of “anti-Semitic hate speech” used by a BHHS ninth-grade student and captured on video.
The statement read:
“This behavior is deplorable and we denounce it. A full investigation is underway and we are working quickly to ensure those harmed by the hate speech receive the support they need.
“These actions are not aligned with our district’s values, nor our work to ensure that every student has a sense of belonging within our district. Our school stands for respect and inclusion and will continue to work toward repairing this harm and restoring relationships and trust. In addition, our administrative team is partnering with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), along with local Rabbis, and other community agencies to provide resources and support.
“We are taking appropriate disciplinary action, per the Student Code of Conduct.
“If you, or anyone you know, needs to talk to someone, please do not hesitate to connect with us. We have highly trained social and emotional support staff who can assist with questions or concerns you may have. Hate speech has a great impact on us all, even if it was not personally directed our way.”
Although school officials could not confirm the details nor the content of the social media posts, other sources, including an involved parent who wants to remain anonymous, said this school year they had been shown by school staff several incidents of offending content that included a photo of a Jewish girl with an anti-Jewish slur “Repping the Rich Jews” captioned on her forehead.
Through a school staff member, the parent was shown a violent video clip from a movie depicting a person’s head being repeatedly smashed on a concrete curb by a heavy boot. Under the video clip ran a caption: “I wish I could do this to all the Jews.”
Bloomfield Hills Schools Director of Communications Shira Good said though she could not confirm the details of the offensive materials because the matter is under investigation and the students are minors, she did say the school administration is grateful for the outpouring of support and resources already provided by ADL officials as well as area rabbis who have all met with Hollerith in recent weeks and days.
ADL Regional Director Carolyn Normandin gave Principal Hollerith a “big thumbs up” for the way he is handling the situation by contacting the ADL for intervention even weeks before the latest incident was publicly reported.
Normandin said there has been an uptick in reports coming into her office from schools around the state.
“Hollerith took the right proactive approach,” said Normandin. “The ADL will be working with Bloomfield Hills High School staff, students and even parents and will be involved in helping the school incorporate and activate restorative practices to help turn this around. In cases like this, it’s not important to know every detail of the offending incident, but what is important is how schools react afterwards. Our education team is on it. I wish every principal in the state was as pro-active as Mr. Hollerith.”