Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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3 girl students strip-searched at charter school

A female student at the Toledo School for the Arts who said she and two other girls were forced to submit to strip-searches is publicly denouncing the action as a humiliation and a violation of her privacy.

Karen Washington, 17, a junior at the charter school on North 14th Street near downtown, said a school official ordered her Tuesday to take off her clothes, including her bra and underwear, because the girls were suspected of stealing money from a teacher's jacket.

"I am very upset, and I'm appalled by this," she said. "I feel humiliated, disrespected, and I feel like my privacy rights were taken away."

Miss Washington said she asked school officials to call her mother, but they didn't.

"[Yesterday], they told us we had the right to refuse to the search. But at the time, they didn't give us that option," she said.

Martin Porter, the school's director, said the school complied with state statute by having the girls searched by two people of the same gender. None of the girls was touched, he added.

Shortly after an art teacher noticed he was missing a $295 money order and $100 cash, the three girls, including Miss Washington, were taken to the school office.

The money order and $67 were found on the first girl after a female guidance counselor and secretary watched her remove her clothing.

Miss Washington and the third girl were then searched, but the remaining money was not found, Mr. Porter said.

He apologized yesterday to Miss Washington and the third female student.

"It's what the police would have done," he said. "We so regret them having to go through that. My greatest concern was the embarrassment to the girls."

The student who was found with the money order and $67 withdrew herself from school, Mr. Porter said.

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