Privacy Press Release

04.20.09

Critical Student Strip Search Case to Be Presented at U.S. Supreme Court

Arizona Case Underscores Work by ACLU in Two Ohio Schools

CLEVELAND- The American Civil Liberties Union will go before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to represent an Arizona teen who was strip searched because school officials believed she violated the school’s drug policy by bringing ibuprofen into the building. No drugs were found on then-eighth grader Savanna Redding, but she was so humiliated that she never returned to the school.

ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link said, “This case is a perfect illustration of zero tolerance policies run amok. If administrators had shown restraint and common sense, they should have realized that strip searching a child to find a legal, over-the-counter medication was unreasonable and unfair.”

The case comes after two recent successful challenges by the ACLU of Ohio against unlawful strip searches at schools. In 2008, the ACLU filed suit against Bucyrus City Schools after officials strip searched five students they suspected of having cigarettes. The ACLU settled the case in April 2009 after administrators pledged to change school policy to forbid strip searches and compensate the children for the illegal search. In 2006, the ACLU sued the Pike County Area Joint Vocational School District after a class of high school girls were strip searched looking for missing money, gift cards and credit cards. This case was also eventually settled.

“Ohio has been on the forefront of protecting children’s rights for years. State and federal courts have consistently upheld that schools must not overreact and subject young people to these humiliating and degrading searches unless there is proper cause,” added Link.

“It is crucial that the U.S. Supreme Court uphold every child’s right to be safe from unreasonable and baseless searches. While everyone wants to ensure our schools are safe, we must also protect students from overzealous officials whose actions could harm students emotionally and strip them of long-standing constitutional protections,” concluded Link.