4/17/2009

Strip Searched for Advil

Open bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol and Ext...Image via Wikipedia

If there was ever a clearer example of the school officials being out of control in their pursuit of being part of the "Drug War" this would be it.

If you're my age (40's+) you probably remember every girl in school having Tylenol or Mydol in her purse. Headache? No biggie, just take a Tylenol and keep going. Today, however, high school students are treated as crackheads first and kids second. No longer can you take a Tylenol or Advil for a headache on your own. To do that requires permission by several people and all but a full physical by a nurse or doctor.

What's worse, if you're caught with such dangerous and "illegal" drugs as Tylenol or Advil you can be suspended, expelled or even arrested! Even more, if you're "suspected" of having such hard core drugs you can be taken into a room and told to get nude in front of a stranger. You can have this woman put her hands on you and search your body cavities. What's more, she can do all this without benefit of a warrant.

Now the courts are taking up this question. Can a student who is "suspected" of having a drug be subjected to a strip search without a warrant?

Here's the story:
SAFFORD, AZ. — Eighth-grader Savana Redding was scared and confused when an assistant principal searching for drugs ordered her out of math class, searched her backpack and then instructed an administrative aide and school nurse to conduct a strip search.

"I went into the nurse's office and kept following what they asked me to do," Savana, now 19, recalls of the incident six years ago that she says still leaves her shaken and humiliated. "I thought, 'What could I be in trouble for?' "

That morning, another student had been caught with prescription-strength ibuprofen and had told the assistant principal, Kerry Wilson, that she'd gotten the pills from Savana. The nurse and administrative assistant, both women, were alone with Savana in the nurse's office when they asked the girl to take off her shoes and socks, then her shirt and pants. The two women then asked Savana to pull open her bra and panties so they could see whether she was hiding any pills. None was found.

Drug searches, along with drug tests for students in athletics and other extracurricular activities, have become common in schools across the nation. But the search of Savana at Safford Middle School on Oct. 8, 2003, ignited a legal dispute that has landed before the U.S. Supreme Court — and could transform the landscape of drug searches in public schools.

Tuesday, the nine justices will hear Safford officials' appeal of a lower court decision that said the administrators violated Savana's constitutional rights and should be held financially responsible.

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