The student suspended from for writing has been charged with ethnic intimidation, Oakland County prosecutors said late Tuesday.
Courtney Thomas, an 18-year-old African-American student, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in 48th District Court and to what is the first in a string of racist incidents at the high school.
Judge Kimberly Small approved the warrant Tuesday after hearing evidence presented by members of the .
Neither the police nor school administrators could confirm whether Thomas was responsible for other incidents at Seaholm, which includes more graffiti and racist notes discovered in an and the .
Marcia Wilkinson, Birmingham’s director of community relations, said the school could release no other information on the student under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Ethnic intimidation is a felony punishable by two years in prison. Deputy Police Chief Mark Clemence said the incident is admissible under the ethnic intimidation law since the graffiti named five African-American students and mentioned lynching.
At the district’s Tuesday night school board meeting, Superintendent David Larson praised those involved in addressing the problem, including students, staff and Seaholm's outgoing principal, Terry Piper.
“We really want to thank Mr. Piper and the staff for their leadership,” said Larson. "It’s very important as a district to be vigilant and committed to diversity.”
Larson said the district is considering installing temporary cameras in high school hallways as a deterrent to crimes such as these. The school board will likely look at the camera issue at one of its June meetings, Larson said.
Jeff Butler, a senior at Seaholm, spoke out at the school board meeting, saying that even though someone’s been caught, more needs to be done to address the perception of racism among Seaholm students.
“The students did a great thing,” Butler said, referring to a held May 8 and May 2. “But there needs to be more … I have friends from other high schools, and they say, ‘You go to the racist high school.’”
Assistant superintendent for educational services Paul DeAngelis said Seaholm and the district are dedicated to addressing this issue on a consistent basis. “We remain committed to maintaining a program of this type,” he said.
Larson said, throughout this process, the district has been working closely with Birmingham African American Family Network, the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and a consultant from the University of Michigan to help develop programming specific geared toward addressing racism among students.
This work has also included several parent meetings. At the latest, held May 11, parents signed up to patrol the hallways on May 12 after the date was found in the latest spat of graffiti. Police also stepped up their presence throughout the day, though .