Commentary

Parents Sue School District For Strip-Searching Their 10 Year-Old Son

By Craig Bannister | December 12, 2012 | 3:08pm EST

The parents of 10 year-old J.C. Cox have sued a North Carolina public school district for allegedly strip-searching their son in search of a $20 bill lost by another student.

J.C. had twice told school officials he did not have the missing money, which was later found in the school cafeteria, attorneys for the Rutherford Institute said announcing the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Institute attorneys charge that a former Union Elementary School assistant principal violated J.C.'s Fourth Amendment rights when she allegedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear.

"Such outrageous conduct by school officials not only dehumanizes students but it also deprives them of the fundamental right of privacy under our Constitution," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.

"These types of searches clearly illustrate the danger inherent in giving school administrators carte blanche authority to violate the civil liberties and privacy rights of students," Whitehead warned.

In filing suit against the school for violating J.C.'s Fourth Amendment rights, Rutherford Institute attorneys point to a 2009 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Safford Unif. Sch. Dist. # 1 v. Redding which held that school officials do not have the authority to strip search a student absent evidence that the student possesses contraband that poses a danger.

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