Suspecting drug use, sheriff conducts mass searches of students

It would appear that in at least one Georgia community, the Constitution isn’t highly regarded, so some of the students at a high school are going to provide a lesson plan.

The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham reports today that students at a high school in Sylvester, Ga., are suing the local sheriff who ordered a fully-body pat-down of nearly every student because he suspected some of them were using drugs.

J.E., one of the plaintiffs who is being identified only with his initials because he is a minor, said in an interview with the Washington Post that when deputies arrived at his 10th grade Agriculture classroom, they marched the students out to the hall, lining them up, girls on one side of the hallway and boys on the other.

The deputies, J.E. says, made everyone put their palms on the wall, spread their legs and take their shoes off.

J.E. says that during his search the deputy put his hands in J.E.’s back pockets and then under his shirt. He then, J.E. says, rubbed down both of the student’s legs from his thighs to his ankles, and back up between them.

“He came up under my privates and then he grabbed my testicles twice,” J.E. said in an interview. “I wanted to turn around and tell him to stop touching me. I wanted it to be over and I just wanted to call my dad because I knew something wasn’t right.”

It didn’t go any better with the girls, the complaint says.

K.P., age 18, was in her economics class when Defendants started their mass search. When her class was called out into the hallway, K.P. was told to stand with her hands on the wall and her legs spread. She was standing with her legs about shoulder-width apart, but Deputy Whiddon kicked them further apart.

Whiddon told K.P. not to look back at her. Whiddon unzipped K.P.’s jacket and asked K.P. whether it had pockets. Despite K.P.’s statement that it did not have pockets, Whiddon reached inside to feel for pockets. K.P. took the jacket off.

Then, Whiddon rubbed her hands from K.P.’s waist up to her breasts and squeezed her breasts five times through her shirt. Whiddon moved the front center of K.P.’s bra left and right, and then lifted the underwire of her bra so that it was sitting above her bare breasts. Whiddon then groped her breasts twice through her shirt.

Next, Whiddon put her hands into K.P.’s jeans pockets, at an angle towards her groin area. Through the pockets, Whiddon’s fingertips went under K.P.’s underwear and touched her vaginal area. Whiddon also patted down K.P.’s legs, from high on her thighs down to her ankles. Finally, Whiddon told K.P. to take off her shoes; she looked inside them and then threw them back at K.P. K.P. had to
pull her bra down herself at the end of the search.

“If you don’t have that then this search would violate an individuals rights,” an attorney for the school told a local TV station. “[It] violates the constitutional right and enforcing them the right against unreasonable search and seizures.”

Right. No kidding. Who doesn’t know that?