Juvenile Strip Search
When you send your kid off to school in the morning you’d like to think they were safe, treated fairly, and that school officials were reasonable. Although juvenile strip searches are rare in school, they can happen.
But can school administrators strip search my child? Like all legal things – it depends.
In a recent federal case out of Georgia, a middle school boy was taken to the principal’s office because he was suspected of having marijuana in his backpack. After a search of the backpack, and finding nothing, the school police officer asked the boy to take off his shirt and socks. No marijuana there. Then they asked him to remove his pants and underwear. He was wearing loose fitting boxer shorts.
The boy asked to remove his underwear in private, but was not allowed. Instead, they told him to remove them in a room with two male administrators and another classmate. Again no marijuana.
The boy and his parents sued the school board and won. The Court said that the “schoolchildren retain a legitimate expectation of privacy in their persons, including an expectation that one should be able to avoid the unwanted exposure of one’s body, especially one’s `private parts. (See D.H. v. Clayton County, Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit 2016) The Court went on to say that a strip search of a student must be reasonable to prevent the danger of other students.
In another case out of Arizona, school administrators strip searched a 5th grade girl for suspicion of having 200 Aleve pills. The US Supreme Court said that was too intrusive. the Court said “the presence of over-the-counter medication posed a minimal danger to the student population, and the school administrators had no reason to believe that Redding was hiding the contraband in her underwear.” ( See Safford School District v. Redding, US Supreme Court 2009). The School Board lost.
In Florida, strip searches in schools are generally not done. Unless two things happen:
- The administrator has knowledge or “reasonable suspicion” that the child is concealing contraband under his or her clothes. AND
- they have the consent of the student.
So, Can School Administrators Strip Search my Child?
Probably not, and if they do, you need a lawyer. A good juvenile criminal defense attorney who listens to the facts of your specific case can answer this better. Call us today for a free consultation.