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School Strip-Searches 22 Sixth-Grade Girls Because a Cop Thought They Were Hiding $50 in Their Underwear

Despite the best efforts of a nurse who “loosened their bras” and “checked around the waistband of their panties,” no money was found.

ChoirIan Allenden / DreamstimeWhen $50 went missing during the choir class's sixth-grade field trip, Lanier Middle School's police officer informed its assistant principal that sometimes "girls like to hide things in their bras and panties." The assistant principal then ordered the choir's 22 female members—it isn't clear whether there were any boys in the choir—to report to the school nurse for strip searches.

Although the nurse "loosened their bras" and "checked around the waistband of their panties," no money was found. The search at the Texas public school was in any case brazenly improper and probably violated the students' rights.

That's according to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The girls had filed a federal lawsuit against the school district, which readily agreed that it had violated their rights under the Texas constitution. A federal judge nevertheless dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that the girls had failed to state a constitutional claim. The Fifth Circuit reversed that decision last week:

Here, the alleged facts, taken together and assumed to be true, permit the reasonable inference—i.e., the claim has facial plausibility—that the risk of public officials' conducting unconstitutional searches was or should have been a "highly predictable consequence" of the school district's decision to provide its staff no training regarding the Constitution's constraints on searches.

Techdirt's Tim Cushing writes that he hopes the school's police officer is now "chronically underemployed":

No one was looking for weapons or even illegal drugs. It was cash—something easy to lose. That $50 has gone missing does not necessarily mean it was stolen. That it may have been stolen does not necessarily mean the female class members would have stashed it in their undergarments.

Cushing adds:

The district's policy for searches is a mess. An unconstitutional mess. As the court points out, it gives no guidance to administrators on how to reach its self-generated standard of "reasonable cause" before performing a search. However, it does tell administrators searches by school personnel should be as non-intrusive as possible and only when there's a "reasonable" belief contraband might be found.

The only discipline handed out for this mass violation of rights was a memo chastising the Vice Principal for performing a search to find something not actually considered to be "contraband." But the court points out that this memo misses the whole point of Constitutional protections and the school's obligation to leave those (and their students) unmolested.

Students aren't prisoners, and schools aren't prisons. But these distinctions blur when school districts rely on police officers and aggressive disciplinary measures to maintain order.

Photo Credit: Ian Allenden / Dreamstime

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  • gormadoc||

    I think he took it from the VC Circuit Roundup.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    You get paid well to check panties.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    This is going to look interesting when "JudithBrinson"'s comment is deleted.

  • gormadoc||

    "Students aren't prisoners, and schools aren't prisons."

    Sure, it's compulsory because kids and their parents love stories like this and hope they can experience something similar.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "girls like to hide things in their bras and panties."

    This is a true statement.

  • Jerryskids||

    We all know how any random member of the commentariat here would know this to be true, but I'd be asking this cop how he got to be so familiar with little girls bras and panties.

  • Jerryskids||

    Well, shit, I just noticed Lanier Middle School is in Texas. There's a good chance some of these 6th-graders are in their 30's.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Like a fine Bourbon...

  • Benitacanova||

    If we're talking about the south, chances are good their moms are strippers. Where else would you stash a 50?

  • Johnimo||

    Oh, please tell us from which State of perfection do you come? Tell us how superior it is to Texas.

  • Tony||

    Yeah, in pockets? Or have you been a fucking British person this whole time?

  • Ben of Houston||

    Well, women's clothing does not often have pockets, so this is actually true. However, even if they had found some cash, there is no method of identifying whether it belonged to the school or the girls.

    This case makes no sense from start to finish.

  • Thane Eichenauer||

    Your comment starts out making sense and then it ends with a nonsensical statement.

  • Ben of Houston||

    Then let me be a little clearer. Women typically have no pockets. This is why the "Victoria's secret compartment" trope exists.

    However, the search was pointless.

    If one of the girls was a thief, it is very easy to dispose of the cash. When walking in a line, surreptitiously pulling out and dropping a bill is easy. It's just found lying on the floor. Bills are also easily hidden in many, many places on the body. Under belts, behind ears, in bags, or dropped behind chairs.

    Even if money was found, the principal could not say it was "his" money. It's not like a diamond ring or drugs, cash money is just cash. Many people have cash for many reasons, and while $50 is unusually large for a schoolchild to carry, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

    Therefore, the principal's actions make no sense from any angle. Even in the best case scenario, he's got a child with money that he can't prove is stolen whom he just had his staff sexually assault. Lawsuit-central.

  • Johnimo||

    The whole point of the search is not to find the money, but rather to establish a humiliating control over the young women. Suppose they found $50 on the first young girl they strip-searched, and then suppose the search of the other young women was cancelled. Then (just for the fun of it) suppose one of the other young ladies pulled out $50 and said, "Look, I've got fifty dollars too." Wouldn't they then be required to strip search all the young women. Oooh .... what fun!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    As the court points out, it gives no guidance to administrators on how to reach its self-generated standard of "reasonable cause" before performing a search.

    Perhaps they could look to Title IX guidance, which gives schools the power to conduct rape investigations outside of the normal justice system.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Man, it sucks not being allowed within 500 yards of this comment section.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You know, as opposed as I am to the sex offender registry, there's a tiny evil part of me that would love to see the cop and everyone at the school involved in this incident placed on there for life.

    If it was my daughter being strip searched, I think the evil part might win.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Good! Let the reactance... flow through you...

  • croaker||

    I'd find taking a Louisville Slugger to the head, chest, and knees of all involved would be much better.

    Or even running them through a woodchipper, slowly.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Or even running them through a woodchipper, slowly."

    You monster! Why would you do something so horrible to some innocent, unsuspecting....

    ...wood-chipper?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Dude, we're libertarians. Obviously the woodchipper would've had to sign the consent forms first. We just take that as a given.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Oh, if that was MY daughter being groped and stripped, I wouldn't be trying to get them of a register. I would be trying to get them thrown in prison for child molesting, with the understanding that that was what I was willing to SETTLE for, and what I really wanted was an opportunity to introduce them all to my new aluminum bat, Fred.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Don't you mean "Bruce"?

  • ||

  • Jerryskids||

    But these distinctions blur when school districts rely on police officers and aggressive disciplinary measures to maintain order.

    I don't think it's maintaining order they're concerned with, it's denying any responsibility for whatever happens in their schools they're interested in.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Basking in the glow qualified immunity radiates.

  • ||

    it isn't clear whether there were any boys in the choir

    My understanding of Reason's position is that it doesn't matter. If the boy or the male school nurse shows up in a bra and panties, these girls get searched as if everybody were girls whether they liked it or not.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I can't decide if mad.casual's "How to Sharpen Your Axe" YouTube tutorial would be an epic ten hour video of him trying it on every surface he could find, or a five second video of him holding an axe and saying "Just grind it literally anywhere."

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    He obviously thought it was Tinder.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I made the same mistake with Spotify, which is how I ended up with so much Miley Cyrus music.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    She's asking like a bottle of two buck Chuck.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That's where he follows his favorite MLP artist's. Same as all of us.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I used to produce a sort of comic thing called the typical libertarian based on a joke SugarFree made. But it got tiresome and not funny very quickly.

    Now that I have some free time, I've been toying with the idea of making some gifs from shows and movies that aren't really out there right now. We'll see.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Students aren't prisoners, and schools aren't prisons."

    Indoctrination camps.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Since students aren't prisoners, try not going to school for a while and see what happens kids.

    These girls should at least have the right to have someone who is not a minor (ie parent) as guardians of all the rights that people of age are afforded. I'd personally prefer that they have all of the rights an adult has, but as a parent I understand that might be problematic.

  • chipper me timbers||

    As always, this is not really much of an issue. The answer to this is so simple: DO NOT put your kids in public school. Problem solved.

  • Tony||

    Because religion is so good to kids and never finger fucks them.

  • ZanderfromNOLA||

    I went to a private Catholic school for 6 years and never had that happen to me. In fact I got a very good education.

  • Fancylad||

    There are shitloads of secular private schools you know. Many are even hardcore prog, which should float your insane, demagogic little boat.

  • Fancylad||

    Anyway, better fucking fingers the cultie, woke mindfucking you get from the public system.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    A good fraction of the country seems to have gone stark raving mad. On what planet is this the sort of thing you should expect from public school employees? The system is unfixable. Shut it down.

  • Don't look at me.||

    If a school personnel are looking inside bras and panties, school is indeed a prison.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    I think the word you were looking for is dungeon.

  • Eddy||

  • crufus||

    What's the fun of being an assistant principal if you don't get to feel up little girls?

  • Juice||

    Students aren't prisoners, and schools aren't prisons.

    ORLY?

  • AlmightyJB||

    OT: Will Trump listen to the NY Times like his predecessor did? What speech will he clamp down on first?.

  • barb l||

    Why the hell did the nurse agree to do this? In no way was it part of her job. You'd think a nurse who works with kids would get how demeaning this was for the girls.

  • SIV||

    The nurse is a screw. The kids are inmates.

  • Rich||

    That it may have been stolen does not necessarily mean the female class members would have stashed it in their undergarments.

    Indeed, it *could* mean the *chaperones* had stashed in their undergarments.

  • Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing||

    JESUS... who said "WOULD"... That's terrible.
    Would.

  • John C. Randolph||

    This seems to me to be the kind of matter that is better solved by enraged parents bearing torches, tar and feathers than litigation.

    -jcr

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "Students aren't prisoners, and schools aren't prisons;" have you been in any schools lately?

  • Steve Bird||

    I'm in jails all the time for work (criminal defense attorney), and I can tell you the similarities are downright creepy. The rules are similar, the social hierarchies are similar, the food is similar, the arbitrary authority of the administrators is similar...I could go on.

  • mpercy||

    "to report to the school nurse for strip searches.

    "Although the nurse "loosened their bras" and "checked around the waistband of their panties,"

    I'm not sure how the latter represents the former description. To be called a "strip search" shouldn't there be stripping involved?

    Invasive, overkill, sure. But let's not go overboard in the labeling...this isn't Buzzfeed.

  • VinniUSMC||

    this isn't Buzzfeed

    Are you sure about that?

  • swampwiz||

    The State has become pedophilic.

  • majil||

    Home School

  • nom420||

    The author presupposes that drugs or even guns are a valid reason to violate people.

  • JonFrum||

    This country has gone soft. Back in the day, a roll of pennies went missing from the principal's office of my grammar school. Not only were we all searched, but Mr Gnarlsson, the sixth grade teach, stuck his finger up all our a$$es to make sure we weren't hiding it. And I have to say, I'm a better man for the experience.

  • Tony||

    Because you learned that $0.50 is hardly worth an anal probe? Or because $0.50 is a good fucking deal for an anal probe?

  • Johnimo||

    Didn't get a reply, did ya, huh? Your question was way too embarrassing for old JonFrum. Makes ya' wonder just where John from, huh?

  • Johnimo||

    This is a great story. Thank you for more humor than I can rightfully expect. I don't know if what you're saying really happened, but it's a fine story, in any case. I've always found my experiences on the Crow and N. Cheyenne reservations to be enlightening.

  • Reverend Draco||

    The assistant principle needs to be found in a ditch 3 miles outside of town.

  • Nelson Kerr||

    Not A dich, ditches

  • Steve Bird||

    Any man who orders a strip search of my daughter will himself be stripped by a nurse. Specifically, the ICU nurse responsible for giving him his sponge baths.

  • Reverend Draco||

    +10

    The nurse who would strip the guy responsible for strip searching my daughter would carry the title of Assistant Coroner.

  • Johnimo||

    I'm not going to make threats against someone doing this to my daughter or granddaughter.

  • RPGuy16||

    Not sure why the cop is taking heat here. The assistant principal ordered the search and the nurse conducted it.

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    "Not sure why the cop is taking heat here."

    Allow me to help. Cop made the girls a target by informing the asst. principal where girls hide things. So, cop facilitated the invasive search and failed to protect the girls' rights.

    You know Charles Manson did not actually kill anyone, right?

  • Flinch||

    ...and the gentleman gets a cigar. The cop ginned up staff with supposition as opposed to taking direct action, thereby informing us of a hideous lack of probable cause to search any individual.

  • Nelson Kerr||

    The cop took no action to stop it. All it would have take was a word.

  • ace_m82||

    Woodchipper

  • Reverend Draco||

    Claas 980

  • Flinch||

    Stupid cop. Searching people needs probable cause, not a dragnet powered by imagination. Put this buffoon on a registered sex offenders list and tell him to shove off.

  • jbsnc||

    Did this action please the rich, rich, rich, rich Hollywood actor Robert DeNiro and former actor Peter Fonda?

  • Rufus T. Firefly.||

    I want to be a police officer at a middle school. ;)

    On a serious note, who the fuck still carries cash?

  • Cloudbuster||

    People who don't want an electronic trail of every expenditure. People who don't want to have their local merchant have a few percent of the price skimmed off for card processing services.

  • Johnimo||

    yes

  • Hank Phillips||

    So someone wanted to put a hand in someone else's panties without their consent. Is this a real-life version of Michelle Wolf's joke about Trump being so broke that when he grabs pussy he has to feel around for loose change?

  • Cloudbuster||

    This would make a fantastic scene in some exploitative "arty" all-girls boarding school movie, a la Cracks, starring Eva Green.

    It also brings to mind Compliance, starring the lovely Dreama Walker. I assume you are supposed to be shocked and horrified by this "based on a true story" tale (Top IMDB review, "It should leave you feeling sad and disgusted!"), but it's really sexy as hell. It's hard to sympathize with people that dumb, and you get to visualize (nothing hardcore, it all happens off-screen or is suggested in indirect camera shots) Walker stripped, dominated, spanked, and "coerced" into giving an "apology" blowjob. My assumption of the real life event would be that this couldn't possibly occur unless the girl was a closet submissive.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Shocking? The point is that we fetishize these images in cinema. Should we be surprised there are real life analogs? Are we surprised young girls are compliant and submissive when that is how we have raised them to be from childhood? Didn't any one of these girls feel free to say "Hell, no!" and damn the consequences? Ignore all the "grrl power" and "strong woman" crap -- it's never presented in terms of practical application, especially when it comes to resisting "legitimate" authority. It's always overwhelmed by our system's strong lesson of "Obey people in authority!"

    It's striking that girls of some earlier generations just might have fared better than modern girls, because women's roles and expectations were clearer, modesty and propriety had higher value, and a girl had the expectation that her parents would back her up should she balk at such a violation, because the social contract was less ambiguous.

  • vek||

    Yeaaah, there's also the fact that women are just the more submissive sex in our species. Nobody questions that female lions are less dominant than males, yet we have this delusion that there is no differentiation in our species, despite every society in the history of the planet basically being male dominated.

    Social rules effect things around the edges a bit, but being submissive is the norm for women.

  • Alan@.4||

    The judge who ruled against the students suit should be disbarred.

  • Gene Ralno||

    Reminds me of the USS Caine's stolen strawberries. I wonder if the assistant principal already suffered with obsessive compulsive disorder or the public school system caused it. I wonder if the teachers came with the malady or they unknowingly were infected by indoctrinating instead of teaching. The cure of course is competition.

    The solution is privatization, school choice if you will. Not the teachers' idea of choice and certainly not the union's idea. Most know what's needed is a robust free market filled with all kinds of accredited schools, able to deliver general subjects as well as all kinds of specialties, including athletics and the arts. School taxes should be returned to parents in the form of a state credit or voucher, spendable in any accredited school by parents according to their choice. Every student would receive the same amount regardless of school taxes paid. Such a system would remove the tyranny, drugs, crime, bullying and bias because no business would survive if it tolerated such behavior.

  • Pat001||

    A great reality show would be "Stupid Things School Administrators Do." The only problem would be keeping the show under one hour each week because there would be so much material.

  • Devastator||

    So aren't the parent's going to sue the school for $50000 per false strip search? Seems only fair because it is clearly against these girls constitutional rights not to get felt up by the school nurse. They should at least get a couple of years of college out of it.

  • Johnimo||

    nice comments, gang ... I'm really proud of you today

  • vek||

    A few points:

    1. This would have been far better if they were 8th grade girls. Cuz you know... Puberty would have actually set in more properly.

    2. They didn't do the search right... Girls have those special magic "pouches" where they can hide things... And if they didn't check, then obviously they were never gonna find the $50 bucks! THEY DIDN'T GO FAR ENOUGH!

    3. WTF is wrong with this country. /SARC on #1 & 2 obviously... But as mentioned above, even if they had found cash, they would have had zero proof it was the cash they were actually looking for. What if they'd found $50 on 5 of the kids??? Who would the thief be then. So stupid on so many fronts.

  • mylesdavis||

    Well, this is weird. I hope that he was fired immediately after that. As a way of good will, I offer them to buy thesis at https://essaybison.com/buy-thesis/, maybe it will give them some sort of comfort, I hope that it will.

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