Monday, April 20, 2009

Schools, drugs and the Supremes

I don’t know if anyone’s seen this story, but the Supremes will be hearing the case this week.

If you don’t feel like clicking the link and reading the whole story, the short and very, very dirty version is this: six years ago a 13-year-old Arizona student was strip-searched by zealous school administrators in their search for illegal drugs.

Excessive? Some may say yes, some may say no. Until, that is, you find out the school’s vigilant principal, vice principal and nurse strip searched the girl while searching for ibuprofen. Personally, I’d say they not only pegged the excessive meter, the excess needle started spinning like a pressure gauge in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

C13H18O2: It can be administered orally,
topically or (hehe) rectally

According to CNN’s lovely story (they must be hiring better writers in Atlanta these days since this one’s actually readable) the school has a zero-tolerance policy for all prescription and over-the-counter medication, including ibuprofen, without prior written permission.

“In this case, the United States Supreme Court will decide how easy it is for school officials to strip search your child,” Adam Wolf, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who is representing the student, told CNN Radio on Sunday. “School officials undoubtedly have difficult jobs, but sometimes they overreact -- and this was just a clear overreaction.”

Ya think? Maybe just a little?

When nothing incriminating was found in the student’s backpack, the vice principal and the nurse (both women) had the girl strip to her skivvies. She then had to turn out the cups of her bra and pull out the waistband of her underwear so they could make sure she didn’t have any anti-inflammatories stuffed down her drawers.

You know what? Even if they’d found her muling a key of pure, uncut Mexican brown their reaction would have been too much. In case these folks out in Arizona haven’t heard, there are actually people called “police” who are specially trained to deal with a situation like this.

Although, I’m pretty sure, the cops would have laughed at the school if they’d called and asked them to strip-search a student to find out if she was hiding OTC medications. That should have been their first clue they were making a mistake.

Their second clue should have been THEY WERE LOOKING FOR FUCKING IBUPROFEN!!

If I’m wrong, and I’m never wrong, I recall from reading many of your blogs (often on TMI Thursdays) 13-year-old girls may perhaps suffer from “discomfort” as they become women. Also, from what I’ve read, there may be a fair amount of embarrassment associated with this event and they may not want to go to the school nurse to ask for something to help with the cramps.

I find it totally reasonable a young girl might have a little stash of Advil or Tylenol (the brand name for another dangerous gateway drug: acetaminophen [C8H9NO2]) in her school kit.

The school district, inconceivably, won the first and second go-rounds of the case, but lost in front of the full 9th Circuit. The school has said it feels a ruling against them could “jeopardize campus safety.” Any restrictions on them strip searching students could be a (have to use the quote here because its logic when applied to anti-inflammatories is amazing) "roadblock to the kind of swift and effective response that is too often needed to protect the very safety of students, particularly from the threats posed by drugs and weapons."

Perhaps a moment or two of contemplative thought instead of swift action is exactly what this situation called for, eh? Maybe? At the very least it would have saved a forest of trees from becoming briefs (Ha! Get it? Briefs?).

School officials added the judges of the 9th Circuit were “wholly uninformed about a disturbing new trend” – the abuse of over-the-counter medication by teenagers.

How the hell do you abuse ibuprofen? (I checked with a doctor friend of mine, you really can’t.)

What happened here is these school officials made a HUGE mistake and they know it, and now they’re trying to litigate their way out of the mess they’ve made.

One of the most important jobs a school has is to teach its students to respect the rules of society. But by stripping students of their rights, to say nothing of their clothes, this school has utterly failed in its mission of turning young adults into productive citizens.


Fearless in Toronto said...

Fee, fie, foe, fum...I smell the blood of a negligent/greedy lawyer lining his or her pockets with taxpayer dollars.

Who else would have ever advised the school board to fight this matter instead of apologizing and settling immediately?

I shudder to think what would have happened to little motion-sick Fearless, bringing all of that Gravol along on school trips.

FoggyDew said...

Fearless - We may be a society of laws, but do we need so many lawyers?

You'd have been facing PWISD charges I'm sure. (For those who've never read an arrest warrant, PWISD is possession with intent to sell and distribute.)

Lemmonex said...

Oh for fuck's sake. Kids have a hard enough time trusting this? Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

And you are right--you cannot abuse Ibuprofen. My neuro has told me I can take up to 8 without harm.

Titania said...

I can't believe that this passed two courts. There is some serious violation of human rights here. Poor girl, I am glad her parents supported this. Those school principal and co. have no right to be calling themselves "educators". I am outraged, I am angry. really. ugh.

PS: my word is "bedisms". Kinda funny, I thought.

FoggyDew said...

Lemmy - You're very, very welcome. That's what I'm here for.

Titania - I was a little surprised it made it through the first federal judge and a three-judge panel as well. This should have been over a long, long time ago. Nice word. I'll have to figure out a way to use it in the future.

JoLee said...

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Oh, that poor child. Not once did an adult say, "hey maybe this is WRONG???"

What is wrong with people?

FoggyDew said...

JoLee - In my years as a reporter I came to a very simple conclusion: People are stupid. Individuals may be intelligent in their own right, but people are dumber than a box of rocks in a stupid factory.

Ella said...

cases like this get me so worked up...i gotta go take some C15H10Cl2N2O2 now!!

Hannah said...

That is disgusting. Sexual harassment/humiliation much? Those assholes should be fired.

FoggyDew said...

Ella - Good choice on the prescription meds.

Hannah - That's what I'm wondering: If the school loses are these jackasses getting the ax?

LiLu said...

Oh, that poor girl... I can imagine how violated she felt. Hopefully she'll have revenge, but she'll ALWAYS be known as "That Girl" now...

Brett said...

If this were about illegal drugs (or weapons) that would be one thing - or even if this girl were considered a threat to herself (as in she were planning on overdosing on the ibuprofen), then I could understand the motives behind this. What I cannot understand is the extent the school went to which humiliated this girl. Turning her bra inside out? Can you think of anything more embarrassing??

FoggyDew said...

LiLu - The ultimate revenge on a principal: SCOTUS ruling they're wrong.

Brett - Maybe, maybe, maybe if it were about weapons, but still, shouldn't they call the cops? And yes, I can think of something more embarrassing and it goes by the letters "BCS" and I don't mean Bowl Championship Series (although that too is embarrassing).