Another day, another example of Black children having their bodies overpoliced and violated in our schools.
An upstate New York community is up in arms with a local school for allegedly strip- searching four Black girls they believed might have been under the influence of drugs.
According to the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, more than 200 parents, staff and community members were jam-packed in a East Middle School board room demanding to know what school officials were doing to do about four 12-year-old students being violated by officials the week prior.
Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow, a local organization, alleged the girls were searched for “appearing hyper and giddy during their lunch hour.”
“The children were instructed to remove their clothing, and felt shamed, humiliated and traumatized by the experience,” according to the Progressive Leaders statement.
While the school district apologized for the trauma the girls may have experienced, they asserted that had the right to search the students.
“Unfortunately, our students shared that these actions have had the unintended consequences of making the students feel traumatized. We sincerely apologize for the impact this has had and are working with these families to support their children’s success,” they wrote in a statement.
Adding, “A student may, under current law and policy, be searched in a school building by an administrator when the administrator reasonably suspects that a student’s health is in danger or is in possession of a substance that may harm themselves or others,” read the statement.
However, as the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin pointed out, the school never admitted to “strip-searching” the four tweens, but stressed that they plan on reviewing their current policy.
In the meantime, Broome-Tioga NAACP President Mica Barreiro presented the board with suggestions on how to hold the staff members involved accountable for their actions.
- Stop the practice of strip-searching children for any reason, and especially in response to giddiness or behavioral concerns.
- Removal of the assistant principal and principal at East Middle School for poor judgment, which allegedly resulted in child trauma.
- Remove the nurse who administered the strip searches.
- Publicly apologize to the students, their families and the community at large for violating the trust of all parties harmed by their actions.
- Provide alternate instruction for the girls, at either West Middle School or home instruction, until the situation has been rectified to the satisfaction of the families.
However, when Barreiro asked had any of the staff been suspended for the incident, Board President Brian Whalen merely replied, “That is a personnel matter.”
The paper also reported that a mother of one of the girls called the school to complain and none of her calls were returned.
This is a developing story. We will provide updates as they become available.