Here’s what we’re strip-searching elementary school students for these days: the existence of feces on a school bathroom floor. (h/t Scott Greenfield)
In a lawsuit, a family claims an Edina elementary school strip-searched their son after they suspected him of having an accident in the bathroom.
Attorneys say the search was ultimately traumatic for the boy who has suffered mental and emotional distress.
“This situation is certainly bizarre; it’s unusual and perhaps unique,” said attorney Marshall Tanick, who represents the young boy and his mother.
Having discovered diarrhea on the bathroom floor, school administrators decided to do something no school administrator should do: they pulled the 8-year-old child (“W.B.” in the lawsuit) into the office, stripped him down, and “searched his naked rectal area” for evidence of floor-pooping.
That this was an elementary school makes this an even more egregious violation of the then-second grader’s body. Sometimes accidents happen. Looking for “suspects” is a stupid response to the inevitable. Deciding an 8-year-old should be strip-searched and examined in an attempt to link him to the discovery of feces on a bathroom floor is insane.
Hence the lawsuit [PDF]. The lawsuit alleges this search was performed without notifying W.B.’s parents and in direct contradiction of school policies, which only allow such extreme measures to be taken in situations involving “imminent danger” or an “emergency health situation.” Obviously, nothing here qualifies as either of those, no matter how broadly you choose to interpret those terms.
The lawsuit also alleges school policy requires parental notification if such a search is going to occur. That didn’t happen here. On top of that, the school has refused to turn over a copy of the incident report to the parents or their legal rep.
The lawsuit calls this what it is: assault. That’s one of the six violations alleged in the lawsuit, along with battery, intentional infliction of mental and emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and the violation of Minnesota’s Data Practices Act, which is tied to the school’s ongoing refusal to part with its incident report.
The statement from the school district is understandably vague, considering it’s being sued and the victim is a minor. But it’s still going on the defensive, attempting to portray the strip search and rectal examination of an 8-year-old student as something everyone would see as reasonable if only they had all the details.
District staff acted to support this student, and it is unfortunate that this matter has progressed to this point based on significant misunderstandings of the District’s actions. District staff at all times has the best interests of its students as their primary focus and goal, and the District remains committed to providing the best possible education and environment for its students.
It’s hard to misconstrue being ordered to remove your pants so school staff can check your rectal area, but here we are, waiting for that very assertion to be litigated. While it’s likely true most of the district staff do have the “best interests of their students” in mind “at all times,” there will always be those who think disproportionate responses are the best responses. Some accidents just need to be punished, and as harshly as possible. It’s happened far too many times for it to be unimaginable, even if the Edina School District would prefer us to believe otherwise.
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