Was School Strip-Search Legal?

"I was just like, did I do something wrong?" Redding recalls. "I was thinking, if I don't do this [go to the nurse's office], they're going to think that I did do something wrong, and I'll get into more trouble."

While the nurse watched, a female secretary had Redding strip to her underwear, pull her bra to the side and her panties out at the crotch and expose her breasts and pelvic area. After no pills appeared, Redding got dressed.

Redding says she didn't return to class but sat in the vice principal's office and called her mother to pick her up. She was afraid to tell her mom on the phone what had happened, she recalls, because "the secretary was listening" and "I was like really ashamed, like it was my fault." A friend later spilled the beans about the search, and Redding says her mom "was more mad than I was. I felt really stupid."

The incident was so humiliating that Redding says she couldn't return to school for months. "Everyone knew what had happened, and they were talking about me," she recalls. "I got really nervous, developed ulcers and started puking."

Eventually, Redding transferred to another school, and today, at age 17, she is still trying to make up for lost time at what she describes as an alternative high school.

"I remember how much I enjoyed school," she says. "I won all kinds of certificates, I was on the honor roll, I was doing pretty good. And I had never been in trouble before."

"I would have felt better if they had called my mom" before doing the strip search, she says.

Wright, the lawyer for the school district, says the school's strict drug policy is still in effect. He is not aware of any specific rules on strip searches but stresses the duty of schools "to closely supervise students and provide a safe environment." As for the strip search of Redding, he says it was based on "reasonable grounds."

"Remember," he says, "this was prescription strength Ibuprofen."

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