The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a middle school’s decision to strip search a 13-year-old girl because of suspicion she brought prescription strength ibuprofen to school violated the Constitution.
(Go here for the decision in Safford Unified School Dist. #1 v. Redding.)
The case attracted national attention and much debate. Some thought the search was too intrusive. Others said schools must have the freedom to do whatever is needed to keep the majority of students safe.
According to the suit, school officials searched the girl’s backpack and her outer garments. That part of the search was constitutional, the court majority wrote.
The search became illegal, they wrote, when school officials ordered the girl to strip to her bra and panties and made her pull them away from her body so they see if she had any drugs. No drugs were found.
Several national organizations have said the ruling didn’t provide clarity on when schools can use strip searches.
The justices wrote school officials must balance the danger of the drug in question with whether there is good reason to think the contraband is hidden in a place making a strip search necessary.
Some school districts, including New York City, have banned strip searches outright. Should other systems do the same?
What standards do you think school districts should follow when deciding whether to conduct a strip search?