[Ibogaine] Federal court says strip search of teen was wrong
DC in AZ
dcollier9 at cox.net
Sat Jul 12 09:27:54 EDT 2008
By Howard Fischer
Captiol Media Services
Published on Saturday, July 12, 2008
The strip search of a 13-year-old Safford school girl to see if she had
drugs was unjustified and excessive, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
In a split decision, the full court overruled its own three-judge panel
which had concluded that school officials had reasonable grounds to believe
that the girl was violating either states laws or, at least school policies.
Judge Kim Wardlaw, writing the ruling, said school officials “acted contrary
to all reason and common sense as they trampled over her legitimate and
substantial interests in privacy and security of her person.”
The judge specifically said the tip from an “informant” another student was
unreliable, especially as the girl had never been in trouble before. And
Wardlaw said school officials overreacted given that they were searching for
nothing more than a prescriptionstrength version of ibuprofen, a pain killer
that in smaller doses is sold over the counter.
But Judge Barry Silverman, writing for the dissent, said he believes the
facts of this case provided school officials with “sufficient information”
to reasonably suspect she had a pill, one which Silverman said had a high
enough dosage to be potentially dangerous to children.
Mark Tregaskes, superintendent of the Safford Unified School District, said
he had not seen the ruling. But Tregaskes said that the school has made
several alterations to its policies since the 2003 incident that would make
it “less likely” a student would be stripped searched in similar
What ultimately led to the search was that girl, caught with some pills,
said she got them from the girl in question here. That occurred the same
time another student told the vice principal some kids were planning to take
The girl, under questioning by school officials, denied bringing pills to
school, denied distributing pills to classmates and said consented to the
She was told to pull her bra to the side and shake it, exposing her breasts,
and being told to pull her underwear out of her crotch and shake it,
exposing her pubic area. The search produced nothing.
Her mother subsequently filed suit alleging her daughter’s constitutional
rights were violated. But a trial judge threw out the case, as did a
threejudge panel of the appellate court.
Wardlaw said the test of whether a search of a student in school is
permissible is whether the actions are reasonably related to the objectives
of the search, the age and sex of the student, and the nature of the
infraction. She said that is designed to balance the need of schools to
maintain order while avoiding
“unrestrained intrusions upon the privacy of schoolchildren.”
That, the judge said, did not occur here.
Wardlaw said the basis for the search was the “unsubstantiated tip” of
another student, who had been caught with drugs, “seeking to shift the blame
Beyond that, the judge said the search was excessive. Wardlaw said if school
officials were concerned the girl were going to give drugs to other students
they could have just kept her in the principal’s office or sent her home
instead of forcing her to remove her clothes.
“And all this to find prescriptionstrength ibuprofen pills,” Wardlaw said.
“We reject Safford’s efforts to lump together these runofthemill
antiinflammatory pills with the evocative term ‘prescription drugs,’ in a
knowing effort to shield an imprudent strip search of a young girl behind a
larger war against drugs.”
Finally, Wardlaw said the precedent that students have some rights against
unreasonable searches had been set by the U.S. Supreme Court 18 years
earlier, and that Kerry Wilson, the assistant principal who initiated and
directed the search, should have been aware that his actions were illegal.
Tregaskes said the district remains responsible to “protect the safety” of
“That’s always going to be a concern (while) at the same time, balancing it
with constitutional rights,” he said. “We’ve placed additional safeguards in
place so that when situations like this, if they arrive in the future again,
that there are additional checks and balances, if you want to call that,
before we would proceed in doing searches to the extent that this one was
"Love converts hearts, and gives peace."
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