03/20/2014 05:18 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2014

Mom Sues School For Allegedly Strip-Searching Daughter

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A Pennsylvania mother is suing her daughter’s school after an alleged strip-searching incident.

Trina Howze says her daughter was strip-searched after officials at the Milton Hershey School became suspicious that the girl was carrying a smartphone, a device that is prohibited at the school. A complaint filed by Howze –- which does not list her daughter’s name or age -- alleges that in June 2013, her daughter was ordered to go to the student health center, where she was "touched … all over her body -- including her chest -- feeling for a smartphone."

The Milton Hershey School is a tuition-free private school for “families of low income, limited resources, and social need,” according to the school’s website. It was founded more than 100 years ago and is funded by a trust created by the founders of The Hershey Company.

Howze claims she called the school after the incident and was told her daughter “does not have constitutional rights because she is in a private school and that the school is backed up by the Derry County Police Department," according to the complaint.

Howze says the strip search should not have occurred without her presence or permission, and she is seeking damages for emotional distress and civil rights violations.

A representative for the school did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post's request for comment. The school’s vice president for communications, Lisa Scullin, previously told Pennsylvania outlet The Patriot News that the school has policies in place to protect students during searches. "We take their privacy rights very seriously," she said.

In 2012, the Milton Hershey school came under fire after it denied admission to an HIV-positive boy. The school eventually changed course and offered the boy a spot.

(Hat tip, Courthouse News Service)



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