When she was a 13-year-old student at Safford Middle School in Arizona, Savana Redding was strip-searched by school officials in search of -- this is no joke -- ibuprofen. Now she is suing the district and the officials for violating her Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
It is not good for Redding that while the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on her case last week, Justice David Souter commented, "My thought process is I would rather have the kid embarrassed by a strip search, if we can't find anything short of that, than to have some other kids dead because the stuff is distributed at lunchtime and things go awry."
The good news, I guess, is that Souter is not the surgeon general, because he seems unable to distinguish between Advil and methamphetamine.
But that's it for the good news. Redding was an honor student with no disciplinary marks against her when another student was caught in class with prescription ibuprofen, small knives and a cigarette. That girl falsely told Assistant Principal Kerry Wilson that she got the pills from Redding.
Redding denied the charge. Wilson searched her backpack and found nothing. So he asked a female assistant and school nurse to strip-search Redding. The two women took Redding down the hall and instructed her to remove her socks, shoes and jacket, then shirt and pants, and finally, when she was down to her underwear, they asked her to pull and twist her underwear -- exposing herself -- to see if any pills fell out. Redding later described the episode as "the most humiliating experience" of her life.
The experience should have been among the most humiliating for Wilson, the assistant and the nurse: They didn't find any pills.
Matthew Wright, the attorney for the school district, told the Associated Press that media coverage is negative due to "a superficial understanding of the facts." He did issue a statement that school officials are "in the untenable position of either facing the threat of lawsuits for their attempts to enforce a drug-free policy or for their laxity in failing to interdict potentially harmful drugs."
So instead, they got a lawsuit for strip-searching an innocent kid because they were fool enough to think she might hide a legal drug in her bra. Yes, those would be the adults in this story.
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