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Michigan school district dealing with tensions tied to Israel-Hamas conflict

A Palestinian flag flies at an October 2023 rally in Dearborn calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Beenish Ahmed
Michigan Radio
A Palestinian flag flies at an October 2023 rally in Dearborn calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The decision by Bloomfield Hills school officials to hold some students out of class after a pro-Palestine protest last week is being criticized by an Islamic-American group.

The student walkout was intended to show support for the Palestinian people as Israel's war on Hamas unfolds.

But some parents of Jewish students attending the school have raised concerns for their children’s safety after the walkout. Some claim a chant at the rally of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” was meant as code to support killing Jews in Israel, which lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

Amy Doukoure says that’s not accurate. She’s a staff attorney for the Council on American Islamic Relations chapter in Michigan.

Doukoure says students who participated in the protest were questioned by district officials as part of a “threat assessment.”

But the demonstration, she said, "didn’t happen in the learning environment. It happened outside of the school."

"And yet, they instituted this threat assessment policy in a manner that has never been done before,” Doukoure said.

She said two students were not allowed back to class after refusing to answer questions about their participation in Wednesday’s student walkout. The students were allowed to return to class Tuesday.

The Bloomfield Hills school district released a statement concerning the walkout and what followed:

A small number of Bloomfield Hills High School students participated in a nationwide walkout, which was not a school-related or sponsored activity. Our commitment to the education of our students across all of our buildings remains our top priority. As we do each day, our schools will address any disruptions to learning following our student code of conduct. Our district will continue to support all of our students, while focusing on student learning and safety. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.