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Parent files federal lawsuit after 8th-grade daughter strip-searched at middle school

Classroom generic
Posted at 3:32 PM, Dec 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-29 18:38:44-05

EASTLAKE, Ohio — The mother of a middle schooler is now suing, claiming a nurse's aide strip searched her daughter. A federal lawsuit accuses the Willoughby-Eastlake School district of violating that teen's constitutional rights, failing to train school employees, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

All of it, the family's attorney said, is because of a vape pen.

According to the lawsuit, it happened back in September inside Eastlake Middle School.

The girl's attorney said the eighth-grader, who's not named in the lawsuit, was approached by a friend asking her to put the vape pen in her gym locker.

“She didn't use it. She didn't want to take part in it, but she felt pressure as a teenaged girl trying to fit in. 'Hey, okay, leave it in there, but leave me out of it,'” said attorney Jared Klebanow.

Turns out, she wasn't.

Klebanow said that just before lunch, the school's principal pulled her out of class and questioned her about the vape pen.
The attorney said the teen admitted it had been in her locker, but a search came up empty.

Klebanow said the principal searched the eighth-grader's hallway locker but found nothing.

That's when the lawsuit says the teen was taken to the nurse's office for a body search.

“This aide takes it upon herself to strip search this teenage girl down to her underwear, subject her to a search when it really wasn't reasonable under the circumstances,” Klebanow said.

Klebanow said that courts have ruled schools can conduct strip-searches, but those are typically limited to extreme cases like imminent threats of violence.

In this case, he says the school went too far.

“A lot of people might say it was one day, move on. But this is an impressionable teenaged girl and you can imagine the range of emotions. You have fear, humiliation, right? It's embarrassing she had to go through this and be all but naked in front of a stranger,” Klebanow said.

He says that body search turned up nothing too. The teen was suspended for two days though.

A spokesperson for the district said she couldn't comment on pending litigation.

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