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Bremen High School

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In the case of Carlson v. Bremen High School District 228, two female students, unjustly exposed to a strip search at the Oak Forrest Hill High School in Illinois, are suspected of stealing $60 from a locker in the girls' locker room. A teacher last witnessed the girls exiting the locker room prior to physical education class. Unlike other students who dress and undress after physical education class, and allowed to do so in private if she chooses, the two girls, asked to undress in full view of one another as requested by the female dean, are not given the choice of a private search.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" (Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, p. 514, 2010). Every citizen, and in this case, the students have the right to be exempt from demeaning, intrusive, and unjustified searches that surpass the limits of the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment, as a rule, ordinarily necessitates a warrant paired with probable cause to enact a search warrant. Students may take part in school searches as long as three stipulations are met: (1) there must be reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will reveal evidence of the violation of a law or a school rule, (2) the method of the search must be reasonably related to the objectives of the search, and (3) the search must not be excessively intrusive, considering the age and sex of the student and the nature of the alleged violation (Sinelnikov & Rawls, 2008). Stipulation number one provides, "there must be reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will reveal evidence of the violation of a law or a school rule." In this case it is not unreasonable to suspect and question other students of stealing the money as other students were in and out of the locker room, not just the two in question.

The physical postures a student may be asked to tolerate during a strip search, such as legs wide apart, a girl lifting her breasts, or bending over are demeaning and unnecessary. Regarded as reasonable in its extent, a strip search of a student must not physically, emotionally, or socially embarrass the student. Students should also never feel threatened if he or she refuses to agree to a strip search or request that his or her parent(s) or guardian(s) contacted before any search takes place. A reasonable search does not infringe on the constitutional rights of a student. However, what is reasonable will depend on the circumstances by which a search occurs.


Embarrassing strip searches have often been a harsh reality for some



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