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School Strip-Searches 5-Year-Old Girl Without Mother's Consent

A Chattanooga, Tenn., mom is suing Hamilton County Schools after it was discovered that Apison Elementary School was strip-searching her 5-year-old special needs daughter on a daily basis without her consent.

The young girl with special needs was diagnosed with congenital herpes while attending school, and despite being given consent to return to school by a doctor, school officials decided that they needed to check to see if the child had lesions. So, for a few weeks, a school nurse would check the young girl’s body to make sure there weren’t any new outbreaks.

The girl’s mother, Brandy Madden, says she later found out about the strip search and has decided to file a lawsuit against the district because she never gave consent to the search. Madden is suing for all medical expenses, past and future, and says that the unwarranted searches caused emotional distress, suffering and embarrassment.

The school has responded, however, claiming that the young girl, who has special needs, still wears a diaper at five years old and that the searches only occurred when the nurse changed her diaper. The statement claims that the girl was, “unable to self-toilet and was therefore dependent upon school officials to change her diaper.”

“… This child had a diminished expectation of privacy such that any routine examination that school officials may have conducted during the course of routine diaper changing would not have violated any clearly established rights of the child,” continued the school in their statement.

Madden also claims that she lost her job due to missing a number of workdays in order to deal with the situation. The lawsuit is still unresolved.


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