Middle School Strip Search Case

May 5th, 2009 | Sources: Washington Post


Six years after Savana Redding was strip-searched by school officials in a frutiless hunt for Motrin (yes, Motrin), her case is going to the Supreme Court. Savana was 13 years old back then, an honor roll student with a spotless discipline record.

couldgoeitherwaySafford Middle School officials claim they had to take seriously all allegations of prescription drug misuse at the time, because in the previous school year a student almost died after ingesting such medication.

They also claim that on the day Redding was searched, another student was discovered to be in possession of prescription drugs that she claimed to have obtained from Redding.

Redding denies this.

Neither side disputes that Redding was strip searched. After a male Vice Principal searched Redding’s backpack, he instructed the girl to go to the nurse’s office with 2 female employees. These people told her to take off her shoes, socks, pants and T-shirt.

Then they asked her to move her bra around in a way that exposed her breasts, and pull upward on her underwear. The search turned up nothing.

She never returned to Safford Middle School — “I just couldn’t go back,” she told the Washington Post.

Earlier court rulings on the case have split down the middle. The first judge sided with the school, saying the search was justified in light of the accusations that had been made against Savana.  That finding was upheld by a divided 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals.

But these decisions were subsequently overruled by the full bench of the 9th Circuit, which found that the search violated the girl’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is expected later this spring.


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