Journal of Educational Controversy


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Supreme Court Decides Student Strip Search Case

The U.S. Supreme Court decision on the student strip search case was announced today. The ACLU , who represented April Redding, the mother of the Arizona student, Savana Redding, calls it the first victory for student rights in the last twenty years. The High Court ruled that the search that took place when honors student Savana was 13 years old was an unconstitutional violation of her rights. The search was done by school officials on the basis of an uncollaborated accusation by another student that Savanna had ibuprofen in her prosession. Now nineteen years old, Savanna wrote about her experience and her court victory on the ACLU blog today.

Read Savana's own words about her court victory from the ACLU blog:

Civics 101
by Savana Redding

"People of all ages expect to have the right to privacy in their homes, belongings, and most importantly, their persons. But for far too long, students have been losing these rights the moment they step foot onto public school property -- a lesson I learned firsthand when I was strip-searched by school officials just because another student who was in trouble pointed the finger at me. I do not believe that school officials should be allowed to strip-search kids in school, ever. And though the U.S. Supreme Court did not go quite so far, it did rule that my constitutional rights were violated when I was strip-searched based on nothing more than a classmate's uncorroborated accusation that I had given her ibuprofen. I'm happy for the decision and hope it helps make sure that no other kids will have to experience what I went through.

"Strip searches are a traumatic intrusion of privacy. Forcing children to remove their clothes for bodily inspection is not a tool that school officials should have at their disposal. Yet, until today, the law was apparently unclear, potentially allowing for the most invasive of searches based on the least of suspicions. Every day, parents caution their children about the importance of not talking to strangers, looking both ways before crossing the street, and following directions at school. But I imagine they never think to warn them that a school official, acting on a hunch, may force them to take their clothes off in the name of safety. And now, thankfully, they won't have to.

"Our fundamental rights are only as strong as the next generation believes them to be, and I am humbled to have had a part in preserving and promoting the Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights."

Readers can read the U.S. Supreme Court decision here.

Editor: The journal recently published some articles on another student rights case, Morse v. Frederick, decided by the U.S Supreme Court in 2007. Readers can read two articles on the case in our Winter 2008 issue on "Schooling as if Democracy Matters."

Visions of Public Education In Morse v. Frederick by Aaron H. Caplan

"Bong Hits 4 Jesus”: Have students’ First Amendment rights to free speech been changed after Morse v. Frederick? by Nathan M. Roberts

(Cross-posted on the Social Issues Blog)

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