Below The Beltway

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Should A School Be Allowed To Strip Search A 13 Year-Old Girl ?

by @ 4:00 pm on March 24, 2009. Filed under Individual Liberty, Legal, Privacy, Supreme Court, War On Drugs

Over at The Liberty Papers, I’ve written twice before (see here and here) about the case of a girl named Savanna Redding who was strip searched by school officials back in 2003:

SAFFORD, Ariz. — Savana Redding still remembers the clothes she had on — black stretch pants with butterfly patches and a pink T-shirt — the day school officials here forced her to strip six years ago. She was 13 and in eighth grade.

An assistant principal, enforcing the school’s antidrug policies, suspected her of having brought prescription-strength ibuprofen pills to school. One of the pills is as strong as two Advils.

The search by two female school employees was methodical and humiliating, Ms. Redding said. After she had stripped to her underwear, “they asked me to pull out my bra and move it from side to side,” she said. “They made me open my legs and pull out my underwear.”

Ms. Redding, an honors student, had no pills. But she had a furious mother and a lawyer, and now her case has reached the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on April 21.

(…)

The search was conducted by Peggy Schwallier, the school nurse, and Helen Romero, a secretary. Ms. Redding “never appeared apprehensive or embarrassed,” Ms. Schwallier said in a sworn statement. Ms. Redding said she had kept her head down so the women could not see that she was about to cry.

Ms. Redding said she was never asked if she had pills with her before she was searched. Mr. Wolf, her lawyer, said that was unsurprising.

“They strip-search first and ask questions later,” Mr. Wolf said of school officials here.

Ms. Redding did not return to school for months after the search, studying at home. “I never wanted to see the secretary or the nurse ever again,” she said.

This will be the first case that the Supreme Court will hear on the issue of individual searches of students by school officials, and one can only hope they will get right.

For me, I cannot imagine any circumstances where it should be acceptable for school officials to strip search a child. If there is some suspicion that a crime was committed, then the matter should be turned over the police — in which case she couldn’t have been strip-searched until she was actually placed under arrest.

What about you ?

4 Responses to “Should A School Be Allowed To Strip Search A 13 Year-Old Girl ?”

  1. ahrcanum says:

    When are they expected to hear the case?

  2. ahrcanum says:

    thanks- that was fast!

  3. [...] summed my own opinions about this story up last month: I cannot imagine any circumstances where it should be acceptable for school officials to strip [...]

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