Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Strip-searching Students

We regularly read horror stories caused by various public school policies, often so-called "zero tolerance" rules that produce incidents of incredible stupidity, as administrators put aside all common sense in favor of blind obedience.  The New York Times reports on one incident that has reached the Supreme Court. A thirteen-year old girl was subjected to a strip-search because school officials "suspected her of having brought prescription-strength ibuprofen pills to school." The appeals court ruled in her favor.

I'm not sure why the school is even appealing this to the Supreme Court. It seems like a pretty clear-cut case. As one of the appeals judges wrote:

“It does not require a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a 13-year-old child is an invasion of constitutional rights.”

Apparently the school had no evidence that she had any pills; they didn't even question her before subjecting her to a strip search, and she had no prior disciplinary problems. It sounds like they did a strip search as a first resort, rather than last. They didn't bother to contact the student's parents and get permission for the search, and just proceeded as if they had full authority to strip-search anyone at the school on mere suspicion. Hopefully the Supreme Court will uphold the verdict. It sounds like some school administrators need to be replaced.

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