The following is the text of the joint statement issued by the Poplar Bluff School District and teenagers who filed a lawsuit over a strip-search on campus. The statement was released as part of the settlement agreement reached with eight of the 10 students.
On Jan. 6, 2003, at the end of the 5th hour at Poplar Bluff Junior High School, a search was conducted of ten junior high girls ranging in age from 12 to 15 who were students in the 7th and 8th grades. The searches were prompted by the loss of $55 which had been given by a student to a teacher for safekeeping. In spite of the fact that none of the ten girls had been seen with the money or in the area where the money was taken, ten of them had been singled out for searches. The initial searches were conducted by Mr. Mike Ivie, the assistant principal, and Johnny Williams, the school's security officer. Teachers were also present. When the initial search of gym clothing, book bags, purses, coats, shoes, socks and pockets failed to turn up any of the missing money, the girls were subjected to a search by a female school nurse. Each girl was taken into the nurse's office and instructed by the nurse to pull her shirt or blouse up over her shoulders so that the nurse could search under bra straps and under the front of her bra. Each girl was then instructed by the nurse to unzip her jeans or slacks and pull them down so that the nurse could search inside the jeans or slacks and inside the waistband of the girls panties. The entire search of the ten girls began at the end of the 5th hour and lasted through the entire duration of the 6th hour. None of the missing money was found on any of the girls as a result of the searches. None of the other students in the class were searched, not even their books or purses, nor were the teachers searched by the administrators.
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The Poplar Bluff School District has entered into a voluntary settlement with eight of the students and parents of the students involved after negotiations with their counsel over the last several months. The Poplar Bluff School District has expressed its sincere regret for the incident and publicly apologizes to the students involved and their families. The school administration regrets giving a false impression that the incident either did not happen or was blown out of proportion, and has acknowledged that the incident did occur as a part of settling the claims of eight of the girls involved.
Mark A. Kennedy – counsel for the Poplar Bluff Junior High students
Thomas A. Mickes – counsel for the Poplar Bluff School District