Public School Strip Search

A Reuters report from 11/10/97 11:18 AM EST, entitled ``U.S. High Court denies school strip-search appeal'', tells of the following case: ``The case began May 1, 1992, when a teacher and a school counselor in Talladega, Alabama conducted the strip-searches after a classmate reported $7 missing from her purse.

``Another classmate accused one of the girls, Cassandra Jenkins, of stealing the money and putting it in the backpack of the other girl, Oneika McKenzie. No money was found in the backpack.

``The two girls were taken to a restroom and told by music teacher Susannah Herring to remove their clothes. They were told to come out of the toilet stalls with their underpants down to their ankles, which they did.

``No money was found on the girls or in their clothing. After a trip to the principal's office, the girls were taken by Herring and guidance counselor Melba Simon back to the restroom for another, unsuccessful strip-search.''

The parents of the two girls sued for damages under the civil rights laws. The suit alleged violations of freedom from unreasonable searches, as well as invasion of privacy.

A federal judge dismissed the suit. A divided appeals court upheld that decision, and the Supreme Court ``turned down the appeal without any comment or dissent.''

Seven dollars. They strip searched two girls in the second grade for seven dollars. I'll bet that in Talladega, if you paid someone seven dollars to strip for you, you'd go to jail. Especially if you were an adult and they were a minor.

I could maybe see this in a later grade, if there was reason to believe one of the kids had a deadly weapon, and planned to use it at school. Even then, there should be some due process, and even then, what would happen if you did this without the parents present, with no cops present? If the kid did have a weapon, you might well die. Pretty stupid. But that doesn't seem to stop, or even slow down, some people.

Last updated: 12 Aug 1999

Copyright 1997 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved. Free redistribution is encouraged so long as the author's name and this copyright are kept intact, and the article is kept intact.

Miles O'Neal <> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514