Thursday, June 08, 2017

Students at rural Georgia school file lawsuit after school-wide drug sweep, pat-down searches

Worth County High School students and parents
meet to discuss the lawsuit (WALB-TV image)
Students at Worth County High School in Sylvester, Georgia, have filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the county sheriff after he allegedly ordered a school-wide drug sweep involving pat-downs of more than 900 students.

The lawsuit alleges that Sheriff Jeff Hobby and dozens of deputies came to the high school April 14 to search for illicit drugs, Christopher Ingraham reports in The Washington Post. Hobby had a list of 13 students he suspected, but only three were present, and he "asked that they be brought to school administrative offices," The Associated Press reports.

"According to the students' legal complaint, they proceeded to go to every classroom and physically search nearly every student present for drugs," Ingraham writes. The deputies reportedly used 'pat down' searches, during which some students reported having their genitals touched. After the search, the sheriff's office acknowledged in a news release that at least one deputy had touched students in an inappropriate manner.

AP reports, "One student, identified in the lawsuit as K.P., was called out of her economics class into the hallway, where a deputy kicked her legs apart and told her not to look back. The deputy squeezed K.P.'s breasts and lifted the underwire of her bra through her shirt and put her hands into the pockets of K.P.'s jeans and, through the pockets, felt under K.P.'s underwear, the lawsuit says."

Ingraham reports, "In the aftermath of the search, the sheriff told local media that the pat-down searches of students were legal because school administrators were present," Ingraham writes. "He also said . . . a separate drug search performed several weeks earlier by police from the City of Sylvester had not been thorough enough. Neither search turned up any illicit drugs."

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