Home > Did Strip Search Violate Student's Privacy Rights? Supreme Court to Hear Safford United School District v. Redding (08-479)
In October 2003, school officials at Safford School District strip-searched a 13-year-old girl after they received an uncorroborated "tip" from another student that the girl possessed "prescription strength" ibuprofen (i.e. two 200 mg tablets).
The child was an honor student who had no prior history of drug use or discipline problems. She was strip searched. No drugs were found.
In 2007, a divided three judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a motion for summary judgment on behalf of school officials in Redding v. Safford Unified School District #1, while noting that:
In a 6-5 en banc decision, the full Court reversed the earlier panel and found:
"On the basis of an uncorroborated tip from the culpable eighth grader, public middle school officials searched futilely for prescription-strength ibuprofen by strip-searching thirteen year-old honor student Savana Redding. We conclude that the
school officials violated Savana’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The strip search
of Savana was neither 'justified at its inception,' New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 341 (1985), nor, as a grossly intrusive
1. Whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits public school officials from conducting a search of a student suspected of possessing and distributing a prescription drug on campus in violation of school policy.
2. Whether the Ninth Circuit departed from established principles of qualified immunity in holding that a public school administrator may be liable in a damages lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for conducting a search of a student suspected of possessing and distributing a prescription drug on campus.
In general, the Supreme Court has not been sympathetic to the privacy rights of public school students, but the facts in this case are so egregious, this may affect their decision.
Redding v. Safford United School District #1