Strip Search Case Debates Student Rights

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments, Tuesday, in a case that could determine how far school administrators can go to ensure the safety of students.

Savana Redding says her middle school years hold one painful memory-- at age 13 she was strip-searched at her Arizona middle school for ibuprofen.

Now, justices are trying to determine if the school violated her Fourth Amendment rights by performing the search.

"They asked me to take off my clothes, and I did," she recalled. "When I was finally in my underwear I thought, 'Okay they are going to let me put my clothes back on now.'"

An assistant principal had the school nurse strip search Redding for the medicine-- she was an 8th grade honor student at the time. Administrators found nothing.

"I just wanted to know where my mom was and why were they doing this to me," she said.

Her mom, April, said she was "shocked" the school didn't call her about the incident.

"She was very upset, emotional," the mother said. "It just hurt me I couldn't protect her.

April Redding says her daughter was so embarrassed she refused to return to school. Her pain has fueled the legal fight that's reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

"If the court signs off on the strip search we could very well see more strip searches in our schools," said Redding's lawyer, Adam Wolf. "It is a proposition that should scare every parent."

School administrators saw nothing wrong with the strip search. They were worried about reports of students using drugs and alcohol after finding an eighth grader with a cigarette and pills.

"Most schools that engage in strip searches do it because they are acting in good faith. They are doing it because they feel an intense need to protect the safety of the students," explained Francisco Negron of the National Board Association.

Redding, however, said based on the school's actions, theyd didn't seem to care about her at the time.

At 19, the college student now waits for the Supreme Court to answer that question.

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