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Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Want to Expand the Definition of Illegal Strip Searches of Students

Friday, March 17th, 2023 -- 10:01 AM

(By Rich Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio) A bipartisan group of Wisconsin lawmakers want to expand the definition of illegal strip searches of students.

According to Rich Kremer with Wisconsin Public Radio, the proposed change in legislation comes a year after a Suring High School administrator forced six girls to strip down to their underwear during a search for vaping cartridges.

It's already illegal for school employees to strip search a pupil, but current law defines such a search as exposing or touching genitals, buttocks or breasts. A bipartisan bill introduced in the Wisconsin Assembly Tuesday seeks to change the definition to include searches in which students are still wearing undergarments.

The bill is directly tied to a controversial search of six teenage girls at Suring High School conducted by former Suring Public Schools Administrator Kelly Casper in February 2022. The girls' families were outraged to learn Casper made them strip to their underwear while searching for nicotine vapes.

The families hired a civil rights attorney who filed a notice of claim with the school, but a lawsuit hasn't been filed according to online state and federal court databases. At the time, the Oconto County District Attorney said Casper wouldn't be charged for making the girls remove their clothes because the search didn't meet the state's definition of an illegal strip search.

Charges of false imprisonment were filed in March 2022. A press release from the district attorney's office said Casper lacked legal authority to confine the girls in the bathroom without their consent during the search.

Those charges were dismissed by a circuit court judge in June 2022. Casper resigned later that month.

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