A mother says Detroit charter school officials strip-searched her eighth-grade daughter without parental consent for a vape pen the 14-year-old didn’t have. Their lawsuit argues the George Crockett Academy violated the teen’s constitutional rights on the principal’s orders, who authorized the strip search by two female staff members.
The search occurred on April 25, but the mother filed the suit on Wednesday (May 3) in Wayne County Circuit Court, per the Detroit Metro Times.
School officials did not notify the girl’s mother– their identities are not public at this time. The lawsuit alleges the staff members didn’t find a vape pen because the girl never had one in the first place.
“It has long been said that students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door,” the mother’s attorney, Hannah Fielstra of the Ernst Law Firm in Detroit, said in a statement. “The school had no justifiable reason to strip search an eighth-grade girl for a vape pen. It is not a weapon and did not present an imminent danger to anyone.”
The mother’s attorney continued: “There were no credible threats of violence. A strip search is one of the most invasive searches recognized by law, and it was performed on a teenage girl during school.”
An 8th grader “was forced to remove her shirt and pants, lift up her bra, and fold down the top of her underwear, knowing she was on her period” while officials at a Detroit school searched for a (nonexistent) vape pen, a lawsuit stated https://t.co/kiul9iZgSy
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 4, 2023
Fielstra called the search humiliating “but (also) in violation of her constitutional rights.”
“The circumstances of this strip search were not only humiliating but her constitutional rights were violated. The school went too far.”
Vape Pen Accusation Made By ‘Bully’ Who Had Animosity Towards Girl, Lawsuit Claims
Another student, allegedly known to bully the child strip-searched, reportedly told teachers about the vape pen, the lawsuit claims.
RELATED: People Are Calling For Justice After An 8-Year-Old Girl Was Reportedly Strip-Searched Before Visiting Her Father In A Virginia Prison
According to the suit, school officials should have been more skeptical regarding the claims about the student. It added that the school failed to investigate the vape pen accusation further before conducting the strip search.
“Defendants failed to ask any follow-up questioning to corroborate the accusation with any details that would suggest that the female student with known animosity toward (the plaintiff) had any firsthand knowledge that the vape pen was in (her) underwear,” the suit states.
Staff searched the child inside an office. The outlet reports that they forced the adolescent to lift her shirt and bra and remove her pants, despite being on her period at the time.
Wisconsin Superintendent Suring Public Schools Superintendent Kelly Casper, 51 Accused of Strip Searching Students for Vapes Faces Criminal Charges. She Allegedly Told Teens to Make 'Better Choices.' https://t.co/fdIa5Dm3mj via @lawcrimenews
— (((mmmexperimental))❌💙💙💙 🖖👍💖🧡💞She/Her (@mmmexperimental) March 2, 2022
School Has History Of Strip Searches Without Parental Consent
The school allegedly has a history of “performing strip searches on minor students without parental consent.” They initially tried to claim the search did not occur before stating the girl volunteered to be searched.
The eighth grader has denied that claim. According to the suit, the trauma of the incident has caused her mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation, and embarrassment.
This news comes months after a Wisconsin school superintendent was charged with false imprisonment. She allegedly confined six students in a school bathroom. Then, she forced them to strip to their underwear to search for e-cigarettes.
Prosecutors charged then-Superintendent Kelly Casper with six counts of false imprisonment in February 2022.
Casper reportedly took six female students into a bathroom and told them to disrobe so she could search for vaping materials.
However, in June 2022, a judge ultimately dropped all charges against Casper, according to WBAY.