Pineland, TX (FOX 51) — An East Texas school district being sued for an unlawful strip search of students is adamantly denying those allegations and requesting the case to be dismissed.
On Wednesday, February 20, the parent of a West Sabine ISD student filed a lawsuit against the school and several administrators after their child, along with others, was allegedly forced to drop his pants for a defecation check.
West Sabine ISD denies allegations of an unlawful bodily strip search of their students.
According to court documents, Wes Little, the father of a West Sabine student, filed a lawsuit against West Sabine ISD, the superintendent, Mike Pate, the principal, Deborah Lane and school nurse, Jo Ann Clark, for damages his child has suffered including mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, costs of suit, attorney's fees and all other relief the court deems appropriate.
The lawsuit alleges 47 students, believed to be in the fourth grade, were forced to pull their pants and underwear down past their buttocks for inspection.
In court documents filed on March, 12, 2013, the administration denies allegations of an unlawful bodily strip search of the students. They acknowledge Little's child was a member of the gym class in question but deny there were 47 other members of this class.
The incident happened after the school district found fecal matter four or five times on the gym floor, but the culprit was unknown.
Following that occurrence, school administrators decided they should inspect members of the class. During this time, the children were separated by sex and checked by the school nurse. The defendant's attorney argues Principal Lane made the decision to conduct a search but was not physically involved in the search.
Little's attorney, Brent Watkins, claims this incident "violated the students' expectation of privacy against such a search, and resulted in embarrassment, fright, and humiliation which was intensified by their adolescent vulnerability to the intrusiveness of the exposure."
Little has also requested a jury trial on all the issues presented.
West Sabine ISD admits students were separated by sex and there was a "limited search" following the incident, but denies the students' pants and underwear were ever pulled down for inspection. The school district says the children did not suffer any kind of humiliation during the inspection and the Fourth Amendment rights of the students were not violated.
West Sabine ISD is requesting the court dismiss Little's claims and any costs and attorney's fees be paid back to them.