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Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court is going to decide whether officials at an alternative school should have required students to participate in a bra search based on a tip that pills were being bought to class.

LaToya Powell of the state attorney general’s office, which is representing the school, told the court Monday the searches in 2008 were minimally invasive. During the search, students had to untuck their shirts and lift their bra away from their body.

An attorney for a student at Brunswick County Academy says her client was humiliated by the search, which was done in the presence of two men.

The state Court of Appeals ruled last year the searches were unconstitutional as well as “degrading, demeaning and highly intrusive.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comment on this Story

  • GuestNobodyKnows

    the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in New Jersey vs. T.L.O. 469 U.S. 325 (1985). This is the case that established the constitutionality of searches of students by school officials for contraband. The court determined that officials must have a reasonable suspicion, but that they also have an overall duty to maintain order and provide a safe learning environment. I think it’s a fairly safe bet that this young NC lady will lose her case. In no way were her rights violated, despite the fact that male faculty or staff were present. The technique described here is one commonly used to check for contraband in a bra. There is no exposure. The bra is simply pulled forward away from the chest allowing anything hidden inside to drop free. That is why the shirts were made to be untucked. While it may be preferable to have a female conduct the search, it is most certainly NOT a requirement.

  • Brian

    The kids assigned to the alternative school made their own poor life choices that put them there. Most continue to do so. If there are no consequences associated with those poor life choices, such as reduced expectation of privacy and restriction of rights, then they will continue to make those poor life choices – utimately progressing to crimes that infringe on the rights of others. These kids are one step away from entering the juvenile justice system – you think they will have privacy and rights while they’re locked up? I think not. I’m glad this case went to the Supreme Court, since the final ruling will set precedent, and hopefully will give the alternative schools the ability to jerk a knot in these kids. Their parents should be next.

  • Guest45465

    You said it correctly Brian…These kids made poor choices, therefore, they lose a lot of rights. I have seen post saying that they shouldn’t “touch the child”..They didn’t!!! She used HER thumb to go under the bra… As a woman, I wouldn’t feel violated just showing I hasd nothing hidden there… Heck you have to do it at Panthers games…

    I truly hope the supreme court makes the correct ruling and as you said.. “give the alternative schools the ability to jerk a knot in these kids”

  • Guest51

    so this 15 year old student made bad choices in life so she be allowed to be searched by 2 grown men…The school used poor decisions by not having a female conduct the search, and having the males leave the room.

    I have no problem with searches, but the problem here is a 15 has no business being required to show her bra to male school officals, regardless what her choices have been…if I was the parents I would be up in arms over that show of stupidity on the part of the officals, and would make me question their ability to run that school. Even male police officers do not search femles, they call in a female to do those searches.

    regardless of how unruly the kids are, she should not have been subjected to that. You should have a strong hand in dealing with these at risk children, but you should not disregard basic human decency in process.

  • anne

    I agree that searches could and should be made but it could have been handled better. There should have been a female who made the search.

    Students and parents need to understand that sometimes situations necessitate searches and that the schools should have a right to do so, but strict privacy measures should be in place. A male should be available to search a male student and a female available to search a female student. And if the schools have any sense at all, they would make two people available so that there would be a witness so that the students couldn’t claim sexual harassment or unwanted touching.

  • Guest461

    …that got her into this “alternative school” in the first place. We are all faced with decision making on a daily basis and we ALWAYS have choices. Choices come with consequences.

    The bottom line is: Very shortly, in a time not so far away, this young lady will be considered an adult and if she can’t muster up the basic ability to make rational decisions by considering and understanding the potential consequences, she will be faced with mandatory full body cavity searches on the way in and with her duration at the GreyRock Bed and Braffast. The chance of that…is NOT remote, it’s very real.

  • Guest51

    i did not realize that i was going to be graded not only on my opinion but my delivery as well

    sorry i offended your sensibilities, but once again my problem is with the MALES being present. if there was any remote chance that she could have been nervous and pull too much or anything that would expose the bra, then they should have been there.

    if the school would have done that the lawyers would not of had a chance in heck of getting to the supreme court of nc. i consider human decency to be treating people the way you wish to be treated and not forcing a 15 year to the possibilty of exposing themselves to someone of the other gender. dress code does not fall into that matter you brought that up, and i stick by my answer, it is their choice to dress that way.

  • Guest51

    She is a student in a school system where she was being search for drugs. She had not been tried and convicted, and for that matter you have no idea of why she was a student at that school.

    Searching a student is not a form of penalization, my problam is that MALES should not have been present.

  • Guest461

    Nobody showed anything to anyone. Read the report. She had to lift her bra away to expose any contraband. She was suspected of having drugs.
    Now…look around you the next time you are in Church, Wallyworld, downtown, the malls, any venue where you you find young people. The display of bras, panty strings, the applique of “PINK” across the hind ends of short-shorted, young girls prancing around and you whine about a bra during a drug search?

    Tell us more about your definition of “human decency”, especially in regard immature drug users!

  • Guest51

    the differnece is that the young people choose to hang out in public dressed in that manner, they are not forced too by someone in an offical capacity.

    You failed to notice that I did not have a problem with the search, my problem is the stupidity on the part of the school officals, they allowed MALES to be present. If they would have used any common sense, this would not have gotten to the state supreme court. Heck even females doctors have a witness present if they are touching anything private.

    these officals brought this on themselves by being stupid. And, we are entrusting these individuals to work with troubled teens. That is my problem, the males should not have been present, now our tax dollars are being wasted once again for stupidity.

  • Guest461

    Yet your post is composed of numerous grammatical mistakes, lack of capitalization and repeated spelling errors? Well, at least you spelled “stupid” correctly at least 3 times. You were trying to describe “human decency” and I simply wanted your clarification on what that is and where it is appropriate. I don’t see where girls (or guys for that matter) dressing trashy while in public is considered “human decency”. You may have a “pick and choose” variety that depends on your convenient conditions.

    I have also not seen read or heard at anytime where the girls bra was ever exposed to anyone. The statement reads that she was asked to untuck her shirt and pull her bra forward with her thumbs. It never said that she was ordered “pull up her shirt”.

    Reading between the lines and making erroneous assumptions quickly make for abrupt conclusions and inaccurate judgments.

  • Brian

    She lost her right to CHOOSE when she chose to behave in a manner that necessitated her being kicked out of regular school and sent to a punitive institution. It’s people like you that whine about your things being stolen out of your car (or worse) by kids like this. You should understand that your insisting that she not be penalized for her bad behavior is the direct cause of escalating crime. End of discussion.

  • WilmMan

    Nowhere in the stifle did it say the female student was searched by two men…it says she was searched in the presence of two men. It’s sad some of you come on here to complain and you can’t even read what you are complaining about

  • really

    First off I assume you are all aldults and some of you may have children,so let me see if I understand this,your blaming a 16 year old child for his or her choices 16 I have pants older than that some are in great shape because I take care of them some are a mess because I dont CARE if they get ruined I hope your getting the point,unlike pants children are NOT throw away items,the parents of these children NEED to be held accountable for what they do and do NOT teach thier child,fix that problem and well you know.

  • Ash

    First of all this girl is in this academy because she has issues. If she thinks bra lifting is invading her personal privacy she has a rude awakening come jail time. In jail they don’t care, you will be searched whenever. However it should be female officers that search female students / inmates. Female / Female & Male / Male.

    This girl has issues and the officers felt a reason she need to be searched and if all she had to do was lift her bra to ensure nothing fell out that is no big deal. If you have nothing to hid you should have nothing to worry about.

    I could see if she won the case since it were men that asked and not women (lesson to be learned by academy). However if she thinks bra lifting is invading privacy and she keeps going on the road she’s on and end’s up in jail get ready for strip search girl!

    So in the end I do see both sides to this story!

  • Guest Redneck Across the River

    “Ash” wrote: This girl has issues and the officers felt a reason she need to be searched and if all she had to do was lift her bra to ensure nothing fell out that is no big deal. If you have nothing to hid you should have nothing to worry about.

    You and those who think like you are one of our biggest problems. All of us are losing our rights every day and no one seems to care. If this girl was suspected of having contraband, her parents should have been called before any one attempted to search her or make her prove her innocence.

  • Guest461

    …simply a PC way of saying “special school for those that have criminal and behavioral issues.”. These kids are in there for a reason and usually drugs are a culprit. These students are in these “alternative schools” as a last chance effort for them to have the opportunity and possibility of completing a basic level of education. Most of them can’t pee straight even with a last ditch opportunity staring them right in the face. Sorry, your illicit behavior got you there! They will watch you closely for a reason and if it takes a search to get the evidence…so be it!

  • Guest2020

    Adult female criminals on the street have to have a female officer search them if it is more than just a cursory search. Why shouldn’t a child in the school system, regardless of which school, be afforded at least that much courtesy? Other than a search for weapons, there should have been a parent or legal guardian present. And I only say search for weapons because of the potential immediate threat. Other than that, there is no harm in having the student sit under observation until a parent or legal guardian can be present for a more invasive search.

    You never know what the reason is for some of these children to be in an alternative school. I know for a fact that for some of them it is simply a matter of them being better able to function in a more structured system than is afforded to them at a regular school. And I don’t think anything like that is enough for a child’s rights to be violated in the manner in which was done to this girl.

    It seems to me that this girl would have had to pull up her shirt to do what these male officers asked. I would raise holy hell if any adult, police officer, or otherwise even suggested that my daughter pull up her shirt for any reason. I would be raising holy hell if this had been done to my daughter.

  • WilmMan

    You may want to check your facts…any officer who is arresting an individual has a right to conduct a search even if they are opposite sexes. As far as the search in the school, the young lady didn’t have to pull up her shirt and expose anything. She simply had to photo her bra away from her cheat so that if any pills were hidden in her bra they would have fallen out. Yes males were there but they did not partake in the search and no body parts were visible to anyone

  • Guest28451

    However the fact that males were directly involved or in direct view of this search I find totally unacceptable and revolting. Yes these kids are in these environments for a reason and they have less then a normal expectation of privacy to a certain degree especially if theres a possibility of contraband being on the property, the search crossed the line when it came to males being involved in searchs of a female student. This is where I and Im sure many others would have the real problem with what happened. Its not the search its how it was conducted or more accurately by whom. Any such potentially invasive searchs involving possible exposure of private parts to include female breasts should be done by same gender staff members only. There should be no acceptable deviation from this as a search policy and it avoids any appearance of impropriety by the school system and Im quite shocked it wasnt done that way to begin with.

  • chad

    Everyone is talking all this trash about thr poor girl. Are you telling me, that if it was your 15yr old girl that you would want the this happening to her? Even the police,prison guards and TSA have rules about a male being around for a search like this. The girl will win this lawsuit and I hope she wins millions of NC taxpayer money ( school funds). Maybe the school will think twice next time they try to search someone. She didn’t have drugs by the way she had pills! Not coke or crack just pills. Big deal, that’s her choice, not yours. Smoking and drinking are a lot worse. How many people died last year of taking pills? Compare that to the amount that died of smoking or drinking! They don’t even compare.

  • Guest2020

    They may have the right to do a cursory search for weapons, but it is my understanding that when a female is taken into custody any thorough searches are done by a female officer. I didn’t say that she exposed anything, but it seems to me that she would have had to lift her shirt to do the thing with her bra.

    In my opinion, regardless of the standard procedure with adult females taken into custody, any search of a minor, with the exclusion of a cursory search for weapons, should only be allowed in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.


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