SCHR to Challenge Worth County Sheriff’s Warrantless Search of Hundreds of High School Students

9th May, 2017

Sylvester, GA—The Southern Center for Human Rights is investigating a warrantless search conducted by employees of the Worth County Sheriff’s Office of hundreds of students at Worth County High School in Sylvester, Georgia.  Many of the searches were highly intrusive and involved officers touching students’ genitals and breasts.  

Students and their families report that on April 14, 2017, Sheriff’s deputies locked down Worth County High School and detained students for over four hours.  About 900 students were ushered into the hallways, where law enforcement officers aggressively searched their persons and used drug dogs to search lockers and cars.  Students, including some with developmental and intellectual disabilities, report that officers felt under their clothes and undergarments and inappropriately touched genital areas and breasts.  One student who is represented by SCHR was asked to lift her shirt.  When she refused, a deputy lifted both her shirt and bra, exposing parts of her breast.  

No drugs were found during the search.

This was the second time in recent weeks that the school was searched by a law enforcement agency. Less than a month before the Worth County Sheriff’s search, the Sylvester Police Department did a search of the school, using dogs to search lockers and cars.  The Sheriff has defended his actions by claiming that the search was authorized because school administrators were present. 

“The Sheriff’s search of Worth County High School students went far beyond what the law permits,” said SCHR attorney Crystal Redd.  “The Sheriff had no authority to subject the entire student population to physical searches of their persons, and certainly none to search students in such an aggressive and inappropriate manner.”

 

For additional information, contact Crystal Redd at 404/688-1202 or [email protected]