Ever heard that expression “throwing the baby out with the bath water”? Some school’s “no tolerance” policies seem to be doing just that. They’re supposed to protect our kids, but many times the judgement of school officials seems more in question than that of the students supposedly in violation.
In October 2003, 13 year-old Savana Redding was stripped searched by school officials in a small Arizona town because they were told she had “prescription drugs” (400mg Advil). Savana was not allowed to even call her parents before or after two female school officials conducted the strip search.
As a mom I’m outraged. I’d like to know what drugs the school officials were on when they decided this was a smart thing to do, because surely there’s no other explanation.
Six years later it comes before the Supreme Court to decide if they’ll uphold the ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit:
“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,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw writing for the majority of the judges. “More than that: it is a violation of any known principle of human dignity.”
Dissenting Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, said the case was “a close call,” because of the “humiliation and degradation” involved. However Hawkins concluded, “I do not think it was unreasonable for school officials, acting in good faith, to conduct the search in an effort to obviate a potential threat to the health and safety of their students.”
The only health and safety threatened in this case was that of 13 year-old Savana.
I have a 13 year-old daughter. I cannot even imagine what it might do to her wonderful spirit to be subjected to such a search. This girl was a straight A student who had never caused problems. Very similar to my own child.
I don’t know what the Redding family is asking for in their suit, but the one thing I’d insist on is to have those two school officials (and any other staff involved in the decision) relieved of their duties. Clearly they’re no “smarter than a fifth grader” (no offense intended to fifth graders) if their decision making process is so outrageously flawed. Is this really who we want in charge of our children?
Turns out the strip searched 13 year-old didn’t have any “threatening” Ibuprofen.
I think teachers and schools are under appreciated. I hate frivolous suits. But in this case, I hope the courts award an amount that will make school officials think twice next time they’re “protecting the health and well-being” of our children.