Parents of two girls who were reportedly strip searched at a San Bernardino, California, middle school earlier this month have reacted angrily to the way their children were treated.
The incident is said to have occurred on April 7, when a 13-year-old and 15-year-old were taken to the school office following allegations of drug possession.
The San Bernardino County Sun reported that the girls were accompanied by Vice Principal of Serrano Middle School, Mrs. Shenita Stevenson, and a male security guard. At the office, the school officials told the girls to go in to a small room one at a time. The girls were then asked to remove their clothes.
Anita Wilson-Pringle, the mother of the 13-year-old, told the press that her daughter was even forced to remove her bra and shake her breasts in the presence of a male security guard. The girls also had to shake out their pants, with one who refused to do so being threatened with arrest.
The results of the search turned up two small bottles in the bag of Wilson-Pringle’s daughter, one empty and the other containing a quarter gram of marijuana. Wilson-Pringle said that the bag was unattended for some time prior to the accusation and denies that the bottles belonged to her daughter.
The daughter also reportedly denied that the marijuana was hers, and refused to sign any paperwork to that effect. She was then ticketed, the San Bernardino County Sun reports.
"What exactly has been going on at (Serrano), because surely these two kids are not the first?” Wilson-Pringle wrote in an article.
Commenting on the search methods to KTLA, Wilson-Pringle stated: “Nobody deserves to be treated like this. What they did to these kids was so demeaning.”
Wendy Alvarado, the mother of the 15-year-old girl involved, was also angry at the school’s actions.
“She trusted the school to take care of her (daughter),” said Judy Carrisales, translating for Alvarado in an interview with KTLA. “It’s devastating for her. She’s very emotional about it.”
School District spokeswoman Linda Bardere responded in an emailed statement by pointing to district policy on conducting searches.
After outlining several factors taken into account during all searches, Bardere wrote, “In addition, school officials shall consider the intrusiveness of the search in light of the student’s age, gender, and the nature of the alleged violation.”
The parents don’t believe that this was done, and are considering legal action. Wilson-Pringle told the Sun: “I had a lawyer before I walked out of the school. I told them, I’m not putting up with this.”