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Supreme Court Examines Middle School Strip Search Case

The Supreme Court is set to issue a ruling regarding the strip-searching of a 13-year-old Arizona girl by school officials. Students generally have fewer constitutional rights than adults do. For example, students’ free speech rights can be curtailed to some degree. School officials may discipline a student for posting a sign at a school-sponsored event that says “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” and is apparently meaningless, but they may not do so for students who wear black armbands in protest as a matter of political speech. Likewise, student athletes and students who participate in other extra-curricular activities associated with the school can be subjected to random drug testing. Broward criminal lawyer Moore believes that students should be protected from unreasonable actions by school officials, including unreasonable searches of students and their property.

A girl at the school was caught with prescription strength ibuprofen, a mild pain relieving medication which is sold at a somewhat lower strength over the counter under the brand name Advil. When she was interrogated by school officials about where she obtained the ibuprofen, she told them that the a different student had given it to her. The school’s strict “zero tolerance” drug policy includes even relatively mild drugs, like ibuprofen.

Student administrators located the student who allegedly supplied the first girl with the ibuprofen. They had no other evidence that she was in possession of an illicit substance. She did not have any prior disciplinary record. Still, when she denied having any ibuprofen, the school officials did not believe her, so they searched her belongings. They found no ibuprofen or other drugs. They were still convinced that she had drugs, however, based on the other student’s statement.

At that point, Broward criminal lawyer Moore thinks that school officials made a pretty serious decision: they decided to strip search the student do to the unfounded allegation that she possessed prescription-strength ibuprofen. Two female school officials made the girl strip to her underwear, even pulling the cups of her bra out to check inside them for ibuprofen. They found nothing. The 13-year-old girl, who had no disciplinary history and for whom there was no corroborating evidence to suggest that she possessed the drug, had been humiliated. She transferred schools as a result of the incident, which she found horrifying, and sued the school. Many criminal defense attorneys who have been following this case are anxious for the upcoming ruling.

Broward criminal lawyer William Moore has experience in all kinds of criminal defense, including sex crimes and DUI. A conviction for a felony or misdemeanor can have consequences on your freedom, your employment, and your personal life. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in the south Florida area, contact William Moore, P.A., which has offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.

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