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Schoolchildren Strip-Searched for Lost $5
March 22, 2002 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Schoolchildren Strip-Searched for Lost $5 This, from the same school district that overruled a teacher who failed cheating students. I dunno about you, but making a bunch of 3rd graders get naked in school seems a little out of bounds. Feel free to tell the school board what you think of this little exercise in pedophiliac totalitarianism.
posted by dejah420 (56 comments total)

 
Oh wait, there's that fiver, it was in my pocket all along. Sorry everyone.
posted by Outlawyr at 9:51 AM on March 22, 2002


My wife is a third grade teacher, and has had her share of (thankfully minor) run-ins with administration. The problem here isn't one of prurience, it's one of that school administrators (a) don't consider children to have constitutional rights in the same sense as adults do, (b) adults are more reluctant to defend the rights of children than they are of adults (see the ludicrous goings-on re: priestly pedophilia for about a bazillion examples) and (c) are sensitive to pressure NOT from their staff and the children in their care but rather from "outside" sources - ignorant or specious parents, a politically-motivated (rather than best-interest-of-children movtivated) school board, labor unions more interested in maintaining duesflow and defending incompetence than providing quality educational services to a very needy client base, seniors who continually vote down school bond issues and property tax increases (creating fiscal pressures) and, often as not their own rather petty political ambitions.
posted by UncleFes at 9:55 AM on March 22, 2002


Be that as it may, and far be it from me to impune most teachers...who are doing a thankless job for a pittance. I have nothing but admiration for the men and women who have dedicated their lives to providing information.

But, the caliber of the teaching experience is not at issue here. What is at issue is the trust and psychological well being of a group of children.

I will grant, that perhaps...perhaps....there was not purient interest on the part of the teachers and administrators, but purient or no, forcing children to remove their clothes in front of an audience, so as to Prove Their Innocence, is beyond reprehensible.

Personally, I think the appopriate response would be to have the adults involved horsewhipped, then ridden out of town on a rail. But then, I'm a little angry at the moment. Once I calm down, I'm sure I'd be satisfied if we just make them stand naked in stocks in the town center for a few days.

At the bare (no pun intented) minimum, I think they should be fired and forbidden to ever have positions that allow them to come into contact with children.
posted by dejah420 at 10:10 AM on March 22, 2002


It's actually this school district. There're two Kansas Cities.
posted by gramcracker at 10:14 AM on March 22, 2002


I'm just imagining the outcry there would be if this happened in Britain. We had 'Paedos Out' riots on a council estate in Portsmouth last year, and a muck-racking tabloid decided to publish the names, addresses and photos of everyone entered on to the sex offenders' register (they only got to about 100, I think, but a couple of men unlucky enough to share their name and hometown with one still got a visit from the local rent-a-mob).

And then there was the (female) paediatrician assaulted by certain concerned parents as illiterate as they were outraged....
posted by CatherineB at 10:23 AM on March 22, 2002


I hope they all get sued severely, and get some jail time. The idiocy of that. This one is top of the list for "WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY THINKING?"
posted by yesster at 10:31 AM on March 22, 2002


I don't think this is a case of pedophilia; I think this is a case of teachers eager to humiliate students, to make them embarassed and ashamed and powerless under the control of their teachers. It's disgusting, and it sure would be nice to see a firing followed by criminal proceedings.

Don't let any sort of generic sympathy for teachers soften this case, folks. Teachers are indeed underpaid and (perhaps) underappreciated, but they volunteer to put themselves in a position of authority over children. Yes, I feel sorry for the doctor whose mistake leads to a malpractice suit, but he/she signed up for that, knowing that was the deal. Teachers assume a similar responsibility.
posted by argybarg at 10:34 AM on March 22, 2002


Thanks Gram, I stand corrected. This is the page with phone numbers and the like for complaining.
posted by dejah420 at 10:40 AM on March 22, 2002


I can't wait to move. Kansas City would be a great place if there were no people. Lots of land, deer, pretty birds, you name it. But the people, as a whole, suck ass. The people as individuals are all pretty nice, with some outdated mores & ideals. It's the actions of the populace I dislike. Get these people in groups, and they come up with the most ridiculous ideas.

Ah well, live and learn. And I've learned that I need to stick close to the coast. I like my people eccentric and respectful of personal space.

Frankly, getting myself back on topic, I do think the teachers involved should be fired - perhaps it's a result of my California upbringing, but I feel so bad for those poor kids. I can't imagine how humiliated they must have been - I'd've died before I'd have gotten undressed in front of a teacher. I think this is a gross misabuse of power, and all for a measly five bucks.
posted by annathea at 10:58 AM on March 22, 2002


echoes of the caine mutiny, no? but sicker and more disturbed, even if it is only about power issues - which is admittedly a best-case scenario here. it's a low form of humanity that has to power trip on creating fear and indignity among seven year olds.
posted by ab3 at 11:09 AM on March 22, 2002


at least they weren't doing anything truly evil like teaching those kids evolution.

hmmm.

is that school board Elected or Hired?
posted by th3ph17 at 11:35 AM on March 22, 2002


I do think the teachers involved should be fired

The teachers' unions are among the strongest in the country. Which is to say, good luck with that. If I was a parent of one of those students, I would hazard to guess that I'd have far better chances of redress with a Louisville Slugger and a home address.

Which, imo, isn't that bad an idea. Perhaps we'd explore the humiliatory aspects of a strip search as an object lesson...? I think that'd be laudably appropriate.

No impunity assumed, dejah420, I think we're of the same general opinion.
posted by UncleFes at 11:36 AM on March 22, 2002


Teachers are indeed underpaid and (perhaps) underappreciated, but they volunteer to put themselves in a position of authority over children.

True. But punish them enough, and they will opt not to volunteer anymore. Then there'll be massive teacher shortages... hey, wait a minute...

Involuntary homeschooling, anyone?
posted by UncleFes at 11:39 AM on March 22, 2002


I'm racking my brains to think of what law may have been broken in this instance which would afford these neanderthals some good time in prison, but nothing I can imagine would net them enough time to not serve at the county jail level. Rats.

Though I must say that examples like these give me excellent fodder for my annual "Why We Homeschool" arguments with the public school teachers in my family.
posted by Dreama at 11:40 AM on March 22, 2002


i just had another thought, i was a pretty damn stubborn kid. No way would i have let teachers strip me. I can't imagine little kids doing that without being physcially forced and verbally harrassed.
posted by th3ph17 at 11:41 AM on March 22, 2002


I don't think this is a case of pedophilia...

I don't think it matters. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. They should be arrested and prosecuted for child sexual abuse. (This would also solve the overpowerful teachers' union problem. In most places, convicted felons cannot be teachers.)
posted by aaron at 11:42 AM on March 22, 2002


I'll also repost/paraphrase something I wrote in a thread from last July about another egregious action taken against innocent children by out-of-control public school workers:
The solution here is quite simple. Sue them. Sue them for an amount of money so huge that it would bring the school district to its knees. And sue every individual that was even 1% involved in this sequence of events that let to this action. In short, go Scientologist on their asses, and make the people in charge realize that if they don't [fire everyone involved and make amends to the families], then their own lives will be made living hells.

It's extreme, but unfortunately it's the only option the [childrens' families have] to make things right.
UncleFes is right. School boards consider themselves to be nearly omnipotent, so the only recourse most families have when they suffer due to the incompetence of/intentional pain inflicted by public school personnel is to use the legal system. And use it with extreme prejudice.
posted by aaron at 11:50 AM on March 22, 2002


Now, maybe it's because I don't have children, but this doesn't seem REMOTELY like a sex crime to me. I can see having these people fired for this incident, but put in jail? From the news article, it seems like a case of poor judgement.

If I were illegally strip searched, I don' t think I'd consider that a sexual assault.
posted by Doug at 11:50 AM on March 22, 2002


I'd agree with that as a prosecutory measure, aaron. Legally, it should be treated as a case of sexual abuse. And I'm sure the teachers understood very well that they were humiliating the kids in an implicitly sexual way. I would just argue that humiliation, and not sexual gratification, was probably their primary interest.

Dreama: That's great for you to homeschool. However, if you think oppressive, mentally abuse schoolteachers have a bad effect on kids, how about the sort of effect that oppressive, mentally abusive parents have when they are not just the parents but the teacher, principal and school system? From a public policy standpoint, it's worth considering. I've known people with childhood family lives bad enough that they were grateful they could go to school.
posted by argybarg at 11:52 AM on March 22, 2002


Last year, a federal appeals court ruled that a strip search of schoolkids is unconstitutional, violating the Fourth Amendment. Unfortunately, in that case, the teacher and the police officer involved couldn't be indicted because they were acting to fulfill their duties. This is not to suggest that the schoolkids couldn't stand to make some bank from this. Even so, I'd rather see the people behind this actually serve some hard time for these shenanigans. They may not be specificlaly pedophiliac, but they are certainly invasive of privacy and represent a strong case for unlawful search and seizure.
posted by ed at 11:54 AM on March 22, 2002


This happened in Oregon a few years ago: 45 girls were strip searched and the school district ended up paying over $250,000 in settlements. It's an abuse of power and public trust and needs to be dealt with harshly.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2002


Pedophile: An adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children.

Watch that slander, folks.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2002


(btw, not defending the strip seach -- I don't agree with it. But you can't just throw heinous accusations around that have no basis).
posted by pardonyou? at 12:06 PM on March 22, 2002


Now, maybe it's because I don't have children, but this doesn't seem REMOTELY like a sex crime to me. I can see having these people fired for this incident, but put in jail?

Not for twenty years or anything. But 30 days, followed by an expunging of their record PROVIDED they not be allowed to work again with kids younger than high school age, would certainly hammer the point home.

The fact remains that they used their powers to compel 8-year-old children to take their clothes off. Any other adult in the nation that did that to even a single child would be arrested for child sexual abuse, no matter what excuse they might come up with.
posted by aaron at 12:21 PM on March 22, 2002


If I were illegally strip searched, I don' t think I'd consider that a sexual assault.

Forgot to add: There's no law against taking off the clothes of an adult.
posted by aaron at 12:23 PM on March 22, 2002


If my child were a student in that school and was involved in this, I would be sitting in a police station right now.

Not because I went to make a complaint.

But because I went to the school and beat the living spit out of the administrator who laid a hand on my child.

I am not exaggerating.
posted by tomorama at 12:37 PM on March 22, 2002


I know it doesn't work this way, but the union should be condemning these actions. Stupid moves like this one only create more animosity and distrust between all parents and teachers. So all the teachers who are doing a great job will still have to deal with the prejudice these incidents breed.

And tomorama, I would be sitting next to you in that police station for exactly the same reason.
posted by whatnot at 1:06 PM on March 22, 2002


Good thing this boy doesn't go to school in Kansas City.

Then again, there's only so many places you can put a sandwich.
posted by CatherineB at 1:38 PM on March 22, 2002


And tomorama, I would be sitting next to you in that police station for exactly the same reason.

We could make it a party. Or, if there was nothing left of those cretins after the two of you were through, I'd post your bail out of my own pocket and buy first round. Cheers!
posted by David Dark at 2:01 PM on March 22, 2002


different source (ACLU) says it was a war medal (not $5), that only the boys were strip-searched by the principal and a male coach, that they kept their underwear on, and that the event occurred on October 3. Still no info on number of children.
posted by yesster at 2:14 PM on March 22, 2002


yesster...that looks like a different event. That is dated 2000. Unless rueters is recycling stories.

Here is a link for a longer version of the new story.

Me, i'm much more angry having read the article.

The teacher took the girls into a bathroom and had them remove their clothing to their underwear, parents said. Then the girls were sent in pairs into bathroom stalls and told to look inside each other's underwear. The teacher did not go into the stalls, parents said.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:37 PM on March 22, 2002


I would be furious if this were my kid- I'm furious on behalf of these kids. I know that as a parent, I have spent untold amount of time emphasizing to my son that no one has the right to touch him or undress him, that his body is his own. For these people to and abuse their authority and undermine these kids' security and privacy disgusts me- just because these teachers and administrators didn't have predatory intentions doesn't mean that next year's baseball coach or art teacher won't. They've effectively taught these kids that when a grown up says strip, they have to, whether they want to or not. I don't care if the Hope Diamond was missing, there were other ways to handle this. I hope they get sued into the dark ages for this stunt.
posted by headspace at 2:49 PM on March 22, 2002


OMG, it's even worse than I thought....and I didn't think that was possible. Not only were the kids stripped down in front of each other, they were forced to feel around in each other's underwear.

Yep, flogging is too good for those teachers. And guys, I'm afraid I'd be in the police station with ya...
posted by dejah420 at 2:53 PM on March 22, 2002


I google searched to find that link I posted above. I thought it was the same story. Sickens and saddens me to know that this kind of thing has occured not once, not twice but three times in the last 2 years, in the KC area.

What's really sick and sad - the school employees involved don't have a clue why people are upset about it.
posted by yesster at 3:00 PM on March 22, 2002


another thought --

- they were looking for a $5 bill. The thinking (if you can call it that) behind doing the strip search wrongly but automatically assumes that none of the kids would be carrying their own money. What if they had found $5.00 on a kid? Automatic criminal because he's carrying some of his allowance? At least 3 adult school employees - working together on this problem - didn't stop to think that third graders might have their own money in their pockets? Again, lucky for the kids that none of them actually had money on them that day.

And we're letting people who can't make that leap in reason teach kids? People that dumb are likely to have made a $5 error in their addition of the lunch money -- I'll bet that there never was a missing bill.
posted by yesster at 3:13 PM on March 22, 2002


Once more this type of assinine thing occurs and once more I ask: What could possibly be so important that it's worth strip searching a bunch of little kids and at the same time not important enough to involve the local police department.

And yes, I do hope multiple people are asked that question in front of such forums as an open school board meeting and a civil court.
posted by ilsa at 3:16 PM on March 22, 2002


I'd love to be the attorney suing these folks: such an easy case with absolutely no fucking defense strategy possible that even a third grader could argue it successfully.
posted by yesster at 3:16 PM on March 22, 2002


The KCMO district is pretty bad, no new news here. The district is falling apart (it's already lost accreditation) and is at risk at being taken over by the state (which it probably should). The reason is really, really corrupt administrators who take all the money they can and run. It's a shame how they ruined it over the last couple of decades. The upshot is that there are more Catholic/private schools sprouting up beyond the national pace (I think there are 5 new private schools a year in the area). The quality of the education is much better than the public school alternative and the price of tuition is affordable to those who need it. So uh, when you hear about the KCMO school district, don't assume it's a reflection of the whole city.
posted by geoff. at 3:38 PM on March 22, 2002


Not only were the kids stripped down in front of each other, they were forced to feel around in each other's underwear.

That is unquestionable child sexual abuse; whether or not the adults got off on it is irrelevant. At the very least, these "teachers" and "principals" are going to be facing civil lawsuits that will completely destroy them and their families.

And if you have a kid in the KCMO district, you might as well find somewhere else for them to go now, because the disctrict's going to end up getting at least an 8-digit monetary judgement in the end.
posted by aaron at 3:46 PM on March 22, 2002


What's really sick and sad - the school employees involved don't have a clue why people are upset about it.

Look for the union label!
posted by aaron at 3:50 PM on March 22, 2002


I'm confused by those who say they would physically attack the teachers involved. If the teachers' offense was to use their power to abuse the children, how is that different from someone who would use a different kind of power (physical superiority or a weapon) to abuse the teachers?

Can any of you who are reserving a spot on the police station bench give a correct account of what happened? One of you would beat up an administrator -- the Kansas City Star says that the only administrator in this case may not even have been involved. (This also illustrates my point in the first paragraph. The principal is female, the would-be avenger is male. What sort of attitude does society take towards men who beat up women?) Another is outraged that the children were "...forced to feel around in each other's underwear" -- there's nothing in any of the links in this thread that indicate that.

Four of you say that you would participate in the beating of "the administrator who laid a hand on my child". Beat on your chests and fantasize all you want, because the principal did not participate in this search and there is nothing in the reports that anyone touched any child. Something happened here, but the whole story isn't clear yet. Why don't you four take some time to spiff up your superhero costumes and we'll let you know when we get this figured out?
posted by joaquim at 3:59 PM on March 22, 2002


If the teachers' offense was to use their power to abuse the children, how is that different from someone who would use a different kind of power (physical superiority or a weapon) to abuse the teachers?

The difference between a trusted public employee stripping and humiliating innocent children and a parent threatening to beat the crap out of the guilty asshole who did it is glaringly obvious to me. One is a grown up who vicitimizes children and one is giving a fully grown adult his just desserts.

That being said, I disagree that violence is the solution to this situation, and I think most people that are posting here are just venting in frustration and likely would NEVER do anything like that in real life. So climb down off your high horse before you get a nosebleed, joaquim.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:24 PM on March 22, 2002


joaquim: The link you posted yourself contains a statement that the girls were told to strip to their underwear, and then to look inside each other's underwear.

Add my name to the list who would be there waiting to beat the shit out of the teachers. The principal can be put in the stocks until we know his level of involvement; if none; he can be merely fired.
posted by bingo at 4:39 PM on March 22, 2002


joaquim, it's like this. If I leave my child with you and trust that you are going to take relatively good care of my child in my absence, but I find out that you abused and, oh, say, stripped and forced my child to open his or her underwear so someone else could peek inside... then God help you, my friend. You can scream in confusion "You're no different! You're abusing me, now!" all you want as I beat you about the head and neck, but I won't care, and I won't stop. I don't need a superhero costume or a weapon, and I don't need you or your committee to sort this thing out for me. I will take my child's word as the correct account of the matter and act without hesitation. IN REAL LIFE. What other life is there?

Presumably this behavior will land me in the county lock-up. And oh well. I will sleep soundly on the cold steel bench.

What sort of attitude does society take towards men who beat up women?

Well, they give them their own T-shirts, of course.
posted by David Dark at 5:39 PM on March 22, 2002


I'm really taken aback at the level of violent vigilante action being endorsed in this thread. MegoSteve says "I think most people that are posting here are just venting in frustration and likely would NEVER do anything like that in real life." I'm not so sure. We're taking about men (I'm assuming) administering beatings to women with baseball bats here. I'm seriously not trying to get up on a high horse--I'm kind of freaked. Do that many people really find vigilante action acceptable? Could we start up a Metalynch?

I mean, give the law a chance, at least.

And another point--y'all do realize that when you beat up someone with a baseball bat, that person has a pretty good chance of dying, right? That's first degree murder, I think, which is a serious crime in and of itself.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:15 PM on March 22, 2002


That's right, mr_roboto. People are frustrated and angry and are talking about it. Nothing's going to happen because, in most cases in this thread, they are strictly speaking in hypotheticals. It's only common sense to realize that people often talk more aggressively than they act, especially on the wild and woolly internet.

I have pretty strong faith in the judicial system, and that eventually those people involved in this forced strip-search case will get what's coming to them, as determined by criminal or civil court, or appropriate authorities.

That being said, I just can't find fault with someone for believing that there may be some instances (like if someone molests your child) where it may be worth sitting in jail for a few years to exact some Old Testament-style revenge.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:50 PM on March 22, 2002


I think a good rule of thumb is this: If you've ever threatened physical violence online, you're a loser, and quite possibly a retard. Not forever, I don't think, but at least for a 24 hour period.
posted by Doug at 7:52 PM on March 22, 2002


Some might say the same about a person using the word "retard".
posted by MegoSteve at 8:19 PM on March 22, 2002


I should beat the crap out of you for that crack, MegoSteve.
posted by Doug at 8:26 PM on March 22, 2002


And another point--y'all do realize that when you beat up someone with a baseball bat, that person has a pretty good chance of dying, right? That's first degree murder, I think, which is a serious crime in and of itself.

It's murder (probably not first degree though, depending on the state), but only if the jury convicts you. People routinely get off, or get convicted only of comparatively minor offenses, after comitting physical violence against people that they have just discovered to have molested and/or otherwise attacked their young children.

Now if you wait six months after learning about it to do your little baseball bat thing, THAT'S premeditation. Going batshit (pun intended) on someone the first moment you can get your hands on them after discovering they've violated your kid, that's probably going to get you a self-defense get-out-of-jail-free card by any jury.
posted by aaron at 9:33 PM on March 22, 2002


If you've ever threatened physical violence online...

Who's done that in this thread? Well, other than you, I mean.
tomorama, putting himself in the position of parent of one of these children, told us how he would react. Many have stated that they, too, feel the same, and others simply don't understand that reaction at all. To me, a personalization of the events, to encompass a "How might you react?" scenario is a much more interesting discussion than what the law in Kansas City explicitly states about strip searching 3rd graders. I'll find that out in due time, I'm sure.

But talking about what you'd do in another man's shoes is expressing personal feelings, not making threats.

"I should beat the crap out of you" is a threat. Note the time.
posted by David Dark at 3:06 AM on March 23, 2002


I think everyone who's talked about violence towards these people do so probably because they know that otherwise, these people probably will have NO PUNISHMENT WHATSOEVER. Unless they're convicted of felony child abuse, there's absolutely no way they're losing their jobs. Those who say they should be fired and not prosecuted are woefully ignorant of the system we are living under.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:26 AM on March 23, 2002


Psst, David, between you and me, it was a joke. I'm not denying that I'm a loser, but I'm not THAT kind of loser.
posted by Doug at 12:11 PM on March 23, 2002


That being said, I just can't find fault with someone for believing that there may be some instances (like if someone molests your child) where it may be worth sitting in jail for a few years to exact some Old Testament-style revenge.

Just one last point about this--it's one thing to extract Old Testament-style revenge and be willing to face the consequences if you're all you have to worry about. I find fault, however, with anyone who would deprive their child of a parent for any number of years in the interest of such revenge. Your child needs you as a parent (which you can't be if you're in jail) more than they need to be avenged. To act out in violence and say "I'm willing to pay the price" is exceedingly selfish when there are other, innocent, people that will be forced to pay the price as well.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:11 PM on March 23, 2002


Yeah, Doug, I know all that, I'm just wondering whom you're calling THAT kind of loser.

Your child needs you as a parent (which you can't be if you're in jail) more than they need to be avenged.

I agree with your sentiment, most definitely. But you really don't spend much "time" away for assault, assuming you get your point across without doing any severe, permanent damage, of course. I don't think any of us are talking about murder, just a good old fashioned whipping.
posted by David Dark at 5:52 PM on March 23, 2002


i dunno if anyone is still reading this thread, but i thought i'd point out that the cheating scandal is, in fact, at a different school district in the area.

and while Kansas is rightly the fodder of lots of evolution jokes, the KCMO school district (which is not even accredited and is being micromanaged by the city council) is actually in Missouri.

so BOTH states are fucked up.
posted by milkman at 9:39 PM on March 27, 2002


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