Santa Fe Public Schools Pays Out $475K for Invasive Body Searches

A former student filed a lawsuit against the district claiming that she and her sister were violated when a security guard body searched them at Capital High’s 2011 senior prom.

SANTA FE, N.M. – Santa Fe Public Schools has agreed to pay $475,000 to a former Capital High school student and her sister to settle claims that they were violated when security guard body searched them at Capital High’s 2011 senior prom.

When then senior Candice Herrera, an honor student, and her then 16-year-old sister Tiffany Herrera, arrived at the 2011 senior prom, the pair were searched by Associated Security Industries of New Mexico.

In their lawsuit, the sisters claim their constitutional rights were violated when security guard ordered them to spread their arms and legs and conducted body searches of the teens, The Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

Candice stated that she felt “molested” by the guard when he put his hands on her breasts and bra and lifted up her dress above the middle of her thighs and examined her bare legs in front of other students and district personnel.

The plaintiff claims she made eye contact with Capital High principal Melanie Romero during the incident, but the search continued.

School officials said the body searches were necessary at the prom and that the procedure was conducted the same way for all students, regardless of gender.

In 2011, a federal district judge ruled that the district needed to only conduct body searches when necessary.

Claims against the security firm, ASI, were not dismissed in the settlement.

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