Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The rest of the story - school wrong to strip search girl

Last year a court ruled that it was OK for a school to strip search a 13-year-old girl to see if she was hiding ibuprofen:

Safford Middle School officials did not violate the civil rights of a 13-year-old Safford girl when they forced her to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area four years ago while looking for a drug, according to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.
The justices voted 2-1 in favor of the Safford School District on Sept. 21. The decision upheld a federal district court's summary judgement that Safford Middle School Vice Principal Kerry Wilson, school nurse Peggy Schwallier and administrative assistant Helen Romero did not violate the girl's Fourth Amendment rights on Oct. 8, 2003, when they subjected her to a strip search in an effort to find Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug sold over the counter and in prescription strengths.

A divided US appeals court has ruled, 6 to 5, that the school was wrong:

"Directing a 13-year-old girl to remove her clothes, partially revealing her breasts and pelvic area, for allegedly possessing ibuprofen, an infraction that poses an imminent danger to no one, and which could be handled by keeping her in the principal's office until a parent arrived or simply sending her home, was excessively intrusive," Justice Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for the majority.
The majority found flaws in the school's logic that a tip from another student justified the action.
"The self-serving statement of a cornered teenager facing significant punishment does not meet the heavy burden necessary to justify a search accurately described by the 7th Circuit as 'demeaning, dehumanizing, undignified, humiliating, terrifying, unpleasant [and] embarrassing'.
"And all this to find prescription-strength ibuprofen pills.
"No legal decision cited to us, or that we could find, permitted a strip search to discover substances regularly available over-the-counter at any convenience store throughout the United States."


I'm glad the court reversed the ruling. I'm sad that it was so close. It should have been 11 to 0. With such a close ruling it is clear the basic issue has not been resolved.

I would love to know if Safford Middle School Vice Principal Kerry Wilson, school nurse Peggy Schwallier and administrative assistant Helen Romero still have jobs.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Technorati tags: government schools, public, school, abuse, power, children, education


mrs dani said...

Of course they will still have jobs!!!!!!
IF one of them had raped her, they would still have a their job.
If one of them had taken pictures, they would still have their job.
If one of them had told her she was really a lesbian because of the way she looked, they would still have their job!
But if any of them had dared to even hint at Christianity, why then they would have lost their job!

The sad or rather scary thing is everything I use as an example are true stories.

christinemm said...

That story is nuts. Why are they ibuprofen police when kids daily get away with drinking and doing serious illegal drugs right on school property?

A friend told me they banned spring water in bottles in school as high schoolers were drinking vodka in them instead. It's back to the water fountain for those kids.

Henry Cate said...

> Of course they will still have jobs!!!!!!

This is one of the things I find most amazing about public schools is how parents allow their children to go into an organization where there is so little accountability.

In most other organizations, like churches or businesses, if a leader makes a big mistake they are fired or even do jail time. But in government schools people who do wrong rarely suffer consequences.

> That story is nuts.

I totally agree.