SURING, Wis. (WFRV) – Multiple Wisconsin legislators are speaking out and advocating against student strip searches after six Northeast Wisconsin students were allegedly strip-searched in January.
According to State Representative David Steffen, the alleged strip searches wrongfully violated the rights and dignity of the students.
“The last thing parents need to worry about is their children being strip-searched at school,” said Rep.
David Steffen. “We can ensure the safety of our students and schools without violating rights or common sense.”
Expressing similar sentiments, Representative Elijah R. Behnke added, “Enforcement of school policies should always be done in a way that respects students’ dignity. Parents should never have to worry about their children’s dignity being violated when they send them to school.”
Now, these and several other legislators are calling for a change to the statute relating to student strip searches asking that the statute define appropriate and proportional disciplinary measures for schools to abide by that don’t put students at risk.
“The statute relating to student strip searches isn’t adequate to keep parents informed and doesn’t teach
our kids the right lessons on respecting others and their person. While administrators have to maintain
discipline, the law needs to change to better reflect our values to keep something like this from happening
again. Forcing students to disrobe without parental approval and threat of punishment for non-compliance
is simply something our community shouldn’t tolerate,” explained Sen. Eric Wimberger.
The incident that sparked this movement happened on Jan. 18 after six female Suring School District students were allegedly forced to strip down to their undergarments in front of a female staff member who was checking to see if the students were in possession of vaping devices, which were prohibited on school property.
A release revealed that during the search students were asked to take off most of their clothes down to their underwear and were visually searched by said staff member.
Additionally, the release went on to report some of the students were asked to move the band of their bra away from their bodies.
During the investigation, the District Attorney’s Office noted that the Wisconsin Statutes about a strip search definition is as follows:
“Strip search” means a search in which a person’s genitals, pubic area, buttock or anus, or a female person’s breast, is uncovered and either is exposed to view or is touched by a person conducting the search.
Because none of the student’s private areas were uncovered during the search, the Oconto County District Attorney’s Office deemed that the searches were not “strip searches” and did not issue charges relating to the search of the students.