Bloomfield Hills superintendent announces retirement in midst of controversy spurred by guest speaker

Patrick Watson (Photos: Bloomfield Hills Schools)

The superintendent of Bloomfield Hills Schools announced his retirement this week, in the midst of controversy spurred by a guest speaker earlier this year.

Patrick Watson will retire on July 31. Watson has worked in public education for 29 years. He has been superintendent for about 3 ½ years after serving as an assistant principal and principal at West Bloomfield High School.

"After careful consideration, I have decided to retire for personal reasons and to spend more time with my family," Watson wrote in a letter to the school community Tuesday.

The news comes as the school is dealing with reactions to a speech given at a diversity assembly.

Previously, the district announced that Bloomfield Hills High School principal Lawrence Stroughter was on leave.

It all started after comments made by a speaker at an assembly that some are calling anti-Semitic.

"Nobody can enter or exit Gaza without permission of the Israeli military. Not even the United Nations, not even a Palestinian needing urgent life-saving medical treatment," Huwaida Araff said in the speech.

Araff, one of several diversity speakers of various backgrounds for the school's program, told FOX 2 her comments were focused on the state of Israel and not the Jewish people themselves. She said she is married to a Jewish man.

However, some said the comments were anti-Israel.

The district released a letter apologizing ahead of an emergency school district meeting that got tense as people shared their thoughts.