East Middle School in Binghamton, New York has issued a statement denouncing allegations of four 12-year-old black girls being strip-searched by the school’s nurse and assistant principal, Buzzfeed reports. The purported incident (Jan. 15) was enacted due to a suspicion that the young girls were carrying drugs. This inkling was fueled by the students’ alleged hyperactivity during lunchtime.
In a statement issued to the Associated Press, the upstate NY school district stressed “there has been a lot of misinformation being spread through social media from third parties,” and that “no students were strip-searched, nor were they punished as a result of the incident in question, and they were allowed to return to class after being evaluated.” Despite this retort, the school board has yet to get to the root of the incident.
As highlighted by various news outlets, the occurrence was made widely apparent after the Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow organization publicized the story with details, which the girls also told their parents. “The children had their clothing removed and felt shamed, humiliated, and traumatized by [the] experience. While they were being searched the nurse made disparaging comments about the eczema of one girl and the size of another’s breasts,” the Facebook post reads.
During a townhall meeting with parents and local community members that demanded an explanation, the Binghamton school board reiterated that a strip-search never occurred. However, the school’s guidelines allow a “medical evaluation” on a student only if “the school district official has reasonable suspicion to believe the student has engaged in or is engaged in proscribed activity.” Within the handbook, the student’s parents will be notified right away if such a search, which the girls described as “humiliating,” were to occur.