Judge Agrees Child’s Fourth Amendment Rights Violated
A lawsuit filed by the parents of a 10-year old boy whose female principal stripped him down to his underwear may proceed, according to U.S. Magistrate Judge William A. Webb. The judge denied a motion to dismiss the case against the principal, Teresa Holmes, and the Sampson County (North Carolina) school board.
Strip Search In June 2012, Holmes, who has since retired, required the boy to strip after $20 in the school’s cafeteria was reported missing. Witnesses claimed that the child, Justin Cox, went under a table to retrieve the money, and Holmes took the child aside to question him. Justin told Holmes he did not have the money and turned his pockets inside out as proof. She then instructed him to remove his clothing, in front of a male custodian, and ran her fingers inside the waistband of his undershorts to search for the money, which was not found. Violation of School PolicyAccording to the school’s search policy, the school retains the right to search a student when there is valid reason to believe the student has violated a law or rule at the school. However, the policy specifically states that a school official of the same gender as the student must conduct the search. Despite this policy, Holmes, along with a spokesperson for the school board, Susan Warren, claims that the search was justified and handled properly. Judge’s Ruling Judge Webb, in a 16-page recommendation, allowed the case to move forward, stating that Justin’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches was violated. The decision also stated that the school violated its own policy by performing the search on the child. Holmes and the school board may appeal the ruling, according to a lawyer helping represent the boy’s family, John Whitehead. When someone’s civil rights are violated, a lawsuit may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding any violations of the civil rights of you or your loved ones.