An administrator at a western Iowa school has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the August 21st strip-search of five-students. Dan Crozier, interim superintendent with the Atlantic Community School District, says because it is a personnel matter, the individual’s name is not being release.
He says the issue will be discussed in a closed session during Tuesday evening’s regularly scheduled school board meeting. The Des Moines Register reported in Saturday’s edition, the incident in question occurred after a female student at the high school reported $100 was missing from her purse.
Lawyers representing the teens say the classmate who reported the incident and a female counselor stood watch in the girls’ locker room at Atlantic High School, as the five girls removed their clothing, and lifted up their underwear.
One of the teens was asked to remove her clothes twice. The allegedly missing money, was never found. The matter has sparked a great deal of public comment, ranging from criticism of the teen for bring so much money to school, to calls for administrators and school board to resign. Crozier says no additional action will be taken until the investigation is complete.
Crozier says they’ve investigated and it takes a lot of time to do that, and they want to treat the students and personnel correctly and they believe following board policy let them do that. Crozier says it’s not that unusual for kids to bring money to school, but there is always a risk it can be stolen. When that happens, he says it’s up to the school to look into it. He says some kids have money and he is sometimes surprised that kids bring money to school.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that no school official has free rein to do intimate searches of students. The court said making a girl pull the waistband of her underwear away from her body constituted a strip-search. In addition, strip-searching is illegal in Iowa schools. Crozier says the district’s lawyer however, seems to feel the board’s policy on search and seizures were within the scope of the law.
Crozier says the lawyer has certain aspects of the incident that he has looked at documentation on and explained to the board. He says the policies the Atlantic School district came up are based on a state template. He says the state has sample policies and the board has followed those sample policies and tried to do what the state suggests. Crozier says also, he hopes the matter can be resolved without having to go to court.
Crozier says they want everyone to be able to work with each other and to be able to find answers. Three of the five girls’ parents hired lawyers, and a fourth family said they intend to do so.