The mother of a girl who says she was wrongfully strip searched at school is speaking out against the district.
Amanda Sandidge is suing Kansas' Turner School District after she said school officials forced her daughter to lift her shirt and bra, exposing herself in December, when another student falsely accused the then-15-year-old teen of possessing drugs at school.
"What comes next?" Sandidge said to KCTV. "If somebody else comes in there and says that somebody else has something hidden in another private area, is that child going to be expected to expose that area? When does it stop?"
According to the suit, the incident was instigated by a vengeful student who went to school officials falsely claiming that Sandidge's daughter had marijuana or drug paraphernalia. After the search turned up nothing, school officials learned that the accusation was fabricated because Sandidge's daughter had been talking to a boy that the tipster liked, The Kansas City Star reports.
The mother says her daughter felt "forced, threatened and coerced into exposing herself" and is seeking more than $75,000 in damages. But the district has filed a motion in federal court to dismiss the suit. District and school officials contend that the student was taken to the nurse's office and asked to pull her bra forward with her shirt untucked.
"Although the student has labeled this a 'strip search,' at no point in time was the student ever asked to nor did she remove any article of clothing," Turner Superintendent Michelle Sedler said in a statement to Fox 4 KC.
Kansas state statutes define a strip search as "removing or rearranging some or all of a person's clothing, by or at the direction of a law enforcement officer." The court will decide within the next few months whether that definition applies to Sandidge's case.
The mother says that the incident has forced her daughter to drop out of school from harassment and is now taking her classes online. The teen is also refusing to leave the house.
"I hate seeing a teenage girl who should be out having fun and doing fun stuff for the summer in her room," Sandidge told KCTV. "I am the voice for my child and for every other parent out there who doesn't ever want to be in the position I am with a child that just went through this."
Her case is similar to one out of Georgia in February, when a middle school student filed a suit claiming he was traumatized and humiliated by a forced strip search in the principal's office.
The event allegedly took place in front of his classmates, who said he had marijuana, and led to emotional distress from subsequent taunting by peers who called him "Superman" for the underwear he was wearing, according to the complaint. No drugs were found.
Another incident in North Carolina sparked outrage in June when an even younger student was reportedly strip searched by an assistant principal who accused a third-grader of stealing money.
The child was reportedly ordered to strip to his boxers, though the missing money was later recovered under a cafeteria table. A lawsuit has also been filed against the school.