Search & Seizure Strip Search of School Teen Held Illegal By Supreme Court

Outrage of the week! Not the ruling by the United States Supreme Court but the complete and utter disrespect by Arizona school officials for the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution to be free from unreasonable searches and seizure.

School officials thought it was OK to strip search a female student,13 year old teenager Savana Redding, to find prescription strength ibuprofen, basically one pill with the strength of two Advil’s. School authorities were allowed to search her backpack and outer clothing but went way to far in searching her underwear. The U.S. Supreme court held that educators cannot force children to remove their clothing unless student safety is at risk.

School officials only need reasonable suspicion, not probable cause, to search a student for contraband not allowed on school grounds. However, the search of the student must be limited in scope. In Ms. Reddings’s case there were no facts suggesting she was a danger to other students or that she was actually possessing the pills in her underwear. Because of these deficiencies, her search was unreasonable under the 4th Amendment.

Ms. Redding was asked by a school nurse administrative assistant to take off her shirt and pants when nothing was found in her backpack. She was then told to move her bra exposing her breasts and to stretch her underwear waistband exposing her pelvic area. No pill was was found!

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court stated that the school officials could not be held civilly liable for their actions-unlawful search. However, Ms. Redding could still pursue a suit against the school district. Several States including California do not allow strip searches of their students. This ruling won’t be the last word on this case!