Student strip search bill signed into law

NEW Media Staff

A bill banning student strip searches by school officials authored by area legislators was signed into law March 22.

State Sen. Eric Wimberger, R-Green Bay, and state Rep. Dave Steffen, R-Green Bay, worked to change state law following a controversial strip search of six teenage girls at the Suring School District. These teens were ordered by a school official to remove their clothing down to their bra and underwear and were subjected to inspection by the school official. This strip search was performed without the knowledge of the girls’ parents or law enforcement officials.

“Wisconsin’s schools are supposed to be a safe and protective environment where students can focus on their studies,” Wimberger said. “There is no reason that a school official should have the authority to strip search students, violate their privacy and force them into an uncomfortable and inappropriate situation.”

Former Superintendent Kelly Casper ordered the search of the girls in January 2022 in an attempt to find vaping devices. She faced felony charges that later were dropped and ended up reaching an agreement with the Suring School Board to step down.

Before Senate Bill 111 was signed, searches like the one that occurred in Suring by school officials were not prohibited. School officials were prohibited from conducting a “strip search” of a student to the extent that their private areas were exposed. This law change extends the definition of “strip search” to include searches that would require a student to strip down to their underwear.

“We are finally closing this loophole in state law, and I hope that no other students go through what these girls had to experience,” Wimberger said. “I’m hopeful this change allows school officials and students to focus on education, and leave enforcing laws to police and law enforcement officials.”

This bill makes no changes to law enforcement’s authority to conduct necessary searches during the course of an official investigation.