Governor Andrew Cuomo has called for an investigation by the State Department of Education after four students at Binghamton’s East Middle High School after the girls were reported to be acting “hyper and giddy’ by staff.
The four girls, all 12 years old, were allegedly searched by the assistant principal and school nurse, who suspected the four were under the influence of drugs.
The school district denies any wrongdoing, saying the girls were not strip searched but were asked to asked to remove “bulky outside clothing” to expose an arm to better assess their blood pressure.
“This is not the same as a strip search,” the school district told Buzzfeed news.
Representatives of the students’ families offer a different perspective, claiming that three of the students were forced to strip down to their bras, with at least one student stripping down to her bra and underwear. The fourth is said to have refused, and received in school suspension as a result.
“The children were instructed to remove their clothing, and felt shamed, humiliated and traumatized by the experience,” the group said in a statement. The parents of the students say they were not contacted for consent, nor were informed of the incident until the students told them. School officials apologized for the “impact” the incident had on the students, but also pointed out that school administrators are legally allowed to perform a search on a student.
“A student may, under current law and policy, be searched in a school building by an administrator when the administrator reasonably suspects that a student’s health is in danger or is in possession of a substance that may harm themselves or others,’ the school told the Sun-Bulletin.
“I have directed the New York State Police to offer their assistance to local authorities in the investigation into these allegations, and I call on the State Education Department to launch an investigation into this incident.