BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) — School officials are denying a report that four 12-year-old girls were strip-searched for suspected drug use at an upstate New York middle school.
Community members packed a Binghamton school board meeting this week to demand answers after reports circulated on social media that the girls, who are black, were strip-searched by the school nurse and assistant principal because they seemed giddy in the lunch room.
A community group distributed a statement at Tuesday’s meeting saying the children were “ashamed, humiliated and traumatized” after being told to remove clothing Feb. 15.
The school district issued a statement Thursday that officials “did not conduct a strip search.” It says a medical evaluation may require removal of bulky outside clothing to expose an arm to take blood pressure, but that’s “not the same as a strip search.”
The following is the Binghamton City School District’s statement:
In the incidence in question, there has been a lot of misinformation being spread through social media from third parties and misinformation that was brought up at the recent Board of Education Meeting. School officials did not conduct a strip search.
When students exhibit behavior that warrants further evaluation the district has an obligation to ensure their health and wellbeing, which may include physical and medical evaluation. The administrators who work in the middle school every day are trained to monitor and evaluate students and recognize behavior that is out of character.
When conducting medical evaluation, it may require the removal of bulky outside clothing to expose an arm so that vitals like blood pressure and pulse can be assessed. This is not the same as a strip search.
As part of the typical procedure, parents are contacted to inform them of the precautions and procedures that were taken. These on-the-spot decisions are made to ensure the student’s health and well-being remain a priority, which is why students are evaluated immediately.
School officials acted in accordance with the board policy. We want to reiterate that no students were strip searched, nor were they punished as a result of the incident in question and they were allowed to return to class after being evaluated.
The safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority.
The Board of Education