MoFo and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit on April 29 on behalf of parents whose twelve-year-old daughters were subjected to illegal strip searches in January. The incident occurred at a middle school in Binghamton, NY, after four Black and Latina girls were talking and laughing in the hallway during their lunch period when they encountered the school principal and assistant principal. The school officials escorted the girls to the health office because of what they considered unusual behavior. The school nurse, at the direction of the principal and assistant principal, conducted intrusive and demeaning searches of each girl, at times instructing the girls to remove layers of clothing and physically touching their bodies. School officials found no evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever and did not notify or obtain consent from the girls’ parents before conducting the searches. The complaint alleges that the strip searches were motivated by the school officials’ racial bias.
The lawsuit comes after the school district failed to rectify the situation, including a refusal to issue an apology for the girls’ mistreatment at the hands of the school’s principal, assistant principal, and school nurse.
“Morrison & Forester is proud to partner with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on this important case,” said Joshua Hill, Partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP. “Every student deserves to attend a school where they are not subject to intrusive and demeaning searches, and where there are no artificial barriers to learning. Our firm is dedicated to bringing meaningful social change for those who need it the most and this case is a part of our rich tradition of pro bono work on civil rights cases.”
The MoFo team working on the matter includes litigators Jamie Levitt, Joshua Hill, Chanwoo Park and Amanda Gayer.
For more information on the case and a copy of the complaint, the NAACP LDF press release is posted here.