SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – School officials violated the Fourth Amendment of a 13-year-old girl when they strip-searched her for two Advil tablets, a divided 9th Circuit ruled.
Judge Wardlaw, writing for the 6-5 majority, found that officials at Safford (Ariz.) Middle School were not protected by qualified immunity.
While searching for the source of a drug problem at the school, officials received a tip that a girl named Marissa had supplied students with Advil to take at lunchtime.
Marissa implicated another student named Savana Redding, an honor student who had never been in trouble before. Redding was summoned to the principal’s office.
Although a search of Redding’s backpack revealed no drugs, she was still taken to the bathroom by a school nurse and forced to strip to her underwear. She also had to expose her private parts to prove she had no drugs.
The only link to implicate Redding was the testimony of a student who was caught red-handed, Wardlaw noted. Even the anonymous tip about Marissa’s drug possession did not mention Redding.
“Officials who strip-searched Savana acted contrary to all reason and common sense as they trampled over her legitimate and substantial interest in privacy and security of her person,” Wardlaw wrote.
Judges Gould, Silverman, Hawkins, Bea and Kozinski dissented.