A Wisconsin superintendent is facing decades in prison for false imprisonment after she demanded that six female students strip down to their underwear as part of a vape search.
The Oconto County, Wisconsin district attorney’s office reported that back in January, Suring Public Schools superintendent Kelly Casper directed the six children into a small bathroom adjacent to a nurse’s office. Once there, and with the nurses’ help, Casper instructed the students to remove their clothing, and stood in the doorway to block their escape. Later, Casper had some of the students physically adjust their bras so she could search those areas for vapes.
Only two of the four students searched using this method were found to possess vape pens.
“Once the children removed their clothing, any opportunity they had to escape would have subjected them to further shame and embarrassment,” noted Edward Burke Jr., Oconto County’s district attorney.
Burke added that the students’ parents were not notified prior to the search. The students consented to the search under duress, the only choice being whether to have Casper or a police officer conduct the search.
The New York Daily News reported that under Wisconsin law, Casper lacked the authority to confine the girls as she did. Casper responded by “[providing] certificates showing different training she has attended through the years [on] where students hide items, how to properly question, having a second person to assist in the search and searching students and the laws about school searches,” according to Law and Crime.
Parents expressed their joy and relief that the county took formal action against Casper. “I feel a lot of relief that something is being done, so we’re not setting an example in our little village of Suring for schools across the state of Wisconsin to be able to allow these types of things to happen to our students,” said one parent, who wished to remain anonymous.
“One of these students had given them their e-cigarette. They still went through with strip searches down to their underwear and bra. I I think that’s bound to be a highly traumatic experience for young teenage girls,” added Jeff Olson, a civil rights lawyer who is representing several of the families.
False imprisonment is a felony in Wisconsin. Each count carries the possibility of a $10,000 fine and a six year prison sentence. Local residents hope that this event will prevent further abuses of power.
On Facebook, one community member said that they “hope all violated file civil action and those responsible are charged and fired. Not only can they not be searched in this manner but bathroom use can not be denied. All students need to know their rights and walk out if need be.”