West Sabine School sued for strip searching kids for feces

By Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau | Feb 25, 2013

MARSHALL - A father has filed a lawsuit against West Sabine School for forcing his child to be strip searched in an attempt to learn who was defecating on the floor of the gym.

Wes Little, individually and as next friend of a minor, filed the lawsuit against West Sabine Independent School District, Deborah Lane, Mike Pate and Jo Ann Clark on Feb. 20 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

According to the lawsuit, West Sabine was having problems with someone defecating on the gym floor, with the incident happening at least four or five times. Following the latest incident in which feces were found the defendants decided that they would inspect members of a specific gym class for feces.

Approximately 47 members of this gym class were separated into groups by sex and were inspected by the school nurse, defendant Deborah Lane.

“Defendant Clark pulled each individual child’s pants and underwear down past their buttocks in order to conduct this 'inspection' of the children for feces,” the lawsuit states.

According to the suit, the inspection failed to determine that any of the inspected children were the ones who defecated on the gym floor.

Little argues that the inspection violates the children’s Fourth Amended standard for school searches in that it fails to balance the governmental interest and the private interest of the students search. In addition, Little argues that the inspection was excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the students and the nature of the supposed infraction.

The defendant is accused of violating the Fourth Amendment.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for embarrassment, humiliation, fright, mental anguish, attorney’s fees and court costs.

Little is represented by Brent L. Watkins of Zeleskey Law Firm in Lufkin.

A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:13-cv-00146

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