It has been more than six years since Savana Redding, who was then a 13-year-old student at Safford Middle School in Arizona, was forced into a strip search by school officials looking for two ibuprofen pills.
Now, at the age of 19, Redding is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will do something about the injustice she suffered as a young girl.
After a teacher found ibuprofen pills on Redding’s classmate, she asked the girl where she got them and the girl indicated — by pointing – that she had gotten them from Redding.
The school’s zero-tolerance policy against “drugs” allowed school officials to strip search Redding in pursuit of additional ibuprofen pills.
The school nurse and another female official at the school told Redding to undress down to her bra and underwear, and then told her to move her bra to the side and to stretch her underwear waistband, exposing her breasts and pelvic area.
Redding had explained that she did not have any ibuprofen and indeed the search did not turn up any pills.
The question now before the Supreme Court is whether school officials violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches. Among the questions to be resolved are whether they had reasonable grounds to believe Redding was hiding pills, and whether the pills posed a public health threat serious enough to justify a strip search.
If the Supreme Court finds the search was unconstitutional, the school might be financially liable for the emotional distress that resulted from the search.
Redding said she was traumatized by the event and that the experience has made it hard for her to function normally in society. She told Fox News reporters that she finds it difficult to trust people and that she has “few friends and prefers staying home.”
Redding dropped out of high school when she was a teenager.
Another issue the court will address is the legality of schools’ zero-tolerance policies.
There is no room for compromise in the minds of many school officials and it infringes upon the rights of students.
The policy is narrow-minded and does not allow explanation from students concerning what has happened.
School officials only have to have “reasonable suspicions” concerning banned items, a term that is certainly overly vague.
School officials were overzealous in their suspicions, and should have focused on the child who was actually in possession of the pills, not on Redding.
Vlora Bojku is a junior business major from Colleyville.