Originally published September 11 2008
Male Assistant Principal Forces a Strip Search of Female Honor Student
by Joanne Waldron
(NaturalNews) Going to public school can be a terrifying experience, as one 13-year-old honor student at an Arizona middle school named Savana Redding recently learned. An article by the Los Angeles Times reports that the frightened young girl was ordered out of a math class by a male assistant principal who decided that she should be strip searched after one of her friends was found to be in possession of Savana's planner and some ibuprofen pills. The other student claimed that Savana had given her the ibuprofen, but Savana denied that she had done so.
Honor Student Gets No Respect
Unfortunately for the young scholar, the word of an honor student was not quite good enough for this particular male assistant principal. He commanded the school nurse and an administrative assistant to conduct a strip search of the young teen. After the rifling of all of her pockets, backpack and personal effects revealed no sign of the medicament (commonly used by teenage girls to relieve menstrual cramps), the two females insisted that the horrified girl undress in front of them, just in case she might be harboring some of the pain reliever inside of her clothing.
No Pills in the Panties
As the nurse and female administrator looked on, the teen was forced to partially remove her brassiere, exposing her bare breasts, as her eyes welled up with tears. Then the two undergarment sleuths inspected the girl's pubic area as the frightened girl pulled her panties away from her body, being instructed to shake out the crotch area. No pills were found. According to an ACLU press release, Redding stated in a sworn affidavit: "The strip search was the most humiliating experience I have ever had. I held my head down so that they could not see that I was about to cry."
Strip Search First, Think Later
Did it ever occur to these administrative "sherlocks" that the girl caught with the ibuprofen might be trying to blame someone else for her own pain reliever stash? Did it ever occur to the panty detectives that it might be a good idea to try to corroborate the story of the accuser in some way before causing such emotional harm and humiliation to an honor student asserting her innocence? Did any of the school officials involved in this charade ever think it might be a good idea to call the girl's parents before forcing her to strip? Apparently not. That's pretty creepy.
Assistant Principal Financially Liable
Thankfully, a federal appellate court ruled that school officials violated the constitutional rights of this young girl when they strip searched her based on a classmate's uncorroborated accusation that she possessed ibuprofen. Moreover, a six-judge majority further held that the assistant principal who instigated the search is not entitled to immunity and is financially liable in this case. Adam Wolf, an attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project and co-counsel in the case with the law firms Humphrey & Petersen and McNamara, Goldsmith, Jackson & Macdonald stated, "Students and parents nationwide can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that adolescents cannot be strip searched based on the unsubstantiated accusation of a classmate trying to get out of trouble. This ruling is a victory for our fundamental right to privacy, sending a clear signal that such traumatizing searches have no place in America's schools."
Educators Should Know the Constitution
Daniel Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona, said, "As recognized by the court, this type of overreaction on the part of school officials is simply indefensible and unacceptable given the absence of any emergency situation. The behavior was so far outside established constitutional norms, the principal should have known he was violating the fundamental privacy rights of the student." One would certainly think that general knowledge of the Constitution would be desirable amongst educators (and especially their supervisors).
After Redding learned of the court's decision, the young teen said, "I took my case to court because I wanted to make sure that school officials wouldn't be able to violate anyone else's rights like this again. This was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, and I am relieved that a court has finally recognized that the Constitution protects students from being strip searched in schools on the basis of unreliable rumors." Amen to that.
Why Some Parents Resort to Homeschooling
As the court stated in its opinion, "It does not take a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a 13-year-old girl is an invasion of constitutional rights. More than that: it is a violation of any known principle of human dignity." Most people probably know teen babysitters who have more common sense than the school officials involved in this case. If there was ever a good reason to school one's children at home, this whole fiasco would have to be it. If the people who are supposed to be in charge are capable of these kinds of kooky decisions, who could trust such a school run by such people with the safety, well-being and education of their children? The school may call what was done in this case a "strip search," but to a young, intelligent, impressionable student, it probably felt more like some form of sexual assault. That's not the kind of education parents want children to get when sending them to school.
About the authorJoanne Waldron is a computer scientist with a passion for writing and sharing health-related news and information with others. She hosts the Naked Wellness: The Gentle Health Revolution forum, which is devoted to achieving radiant health, well-being, and longevity.
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