3 East Middle School Students Allegedly Strip-Searched for Drugs
The female students claim they were strip-searched for drugs by the school nurse and assistant principal because they were acting “hyper and giddy.”
Three students were allegedly strip-searched and a fourth was suspended after they were suspected of possessing drugs due to their behavior.
The students, all 12-year-old black females, were questioned because they were acting “hyper and giddy during their lunch hour” at East Middle School in Binghamton, N.Y., reports Business Insider.
Three of the girls were then allegedly strip-searched in the nurse’s office by the nurse and an assistant principal on Jan. 15. The fourth student reportedly refused to remove her clothing and was put in an in-school suspension.
“The children were instructed to remove their clothing, and felt shamed, humiliated and traumatized by the experience,” according to a statement from the Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow, a local advocacy group.
The group’s statement also claimed three of the students were forced to strip down to their bras, with at least one stripping down to her bra and underwear.
School officials denied that the strip searches occurred, stating officials “acted in accordance with” policy and that under current law, students can “be searched in a school building by an administrator when the administrator reasonably suspects that a student’s health is in danger or is in possession of a substance that may harm themselves or others.”
“When conducting medical evaluation, it may require the removal of bulky outside clothing to expose an arm so that vitals like blood pressure and pulse can be assessed,” the district wrote in a statement. “This is not the same as a strip search.”
The girls’ parents also released a statement on Friday, indicating their daughters no longer feel safe at school.
“Listening to our children recount and relive this trauma has been an experience we would not wish on any parent,” the statement said. “And we hope no other child has to experience what they have endured.”
The parents also claim the school did not inform them of the incident and they had to follow up with school officials after their daughters told them what allegedly happened.
On Tuesday, nearly 200 community members attended a school board meeting to discuss the incident, according to Press Connects. Many wondered why no disciplinary actions had been taken against the accused employees.
Broome-Tioga NAACP President Mica Barreiro spoke at the meeting, calling for the removal of the nurse and assistant principal involved in the searches. He also called for the removal of the principal and a public apology from the school.
Alexis Pleus, executive director of Truth Pharm, a non-profit organization aimed at raising awareness around substance abuse disorders, also spoke at the meeting, stating being “hyper and giddy” are not common signs of substance use. She also urged the district to educate employees on signs and symptoms of drug use.
The Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow have planned a rally for Tuesday at the school to protest the district’s “invasive and discriminatory searches.”
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