Round Lake school officials accused of strip-searching student

Updated 10/4/2012 6:32 PM

Round Lake school officials unlawfully forced a middle school student to submit to a strip search in April because administrators believed he was hiding marijuana somewhere on his body, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court.

The mother of the unidentified 13-year-old is suing Round Lake Unit District 116 for more than $1 million in damages.

According to the suit, the boy was taken out of class at Round Lake Middle School on April 20, escorted to a conference room, and told to take off his shoes and lift up his shirt by former Principal Ryan Hawkins and Assistant Principal Ray Porten, who also are named in the lawsuit.

The suit says that when no cannabis was discovered, Hawkins and Porten had the teen remove his pants and underwear, then push aside his genitals, to ensure he wasn't hiding any contraband.

The administrators' actions, according to the suit, constituted a violation of the student's Fourth Amendment rights, which protect a person against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Constance Collins, superintendent of Round Lake Area School District 116, said the district has not yet been served with the lawsuit, and she would not comment about it until she is able to see it.

She did say, however, that Hawkins left Round Lake Middle School last school year of his own volition. The Round Lake School district website still lists Porten as an assistant principal at the middle school.

The strip search was done in a conference room with uncovered windows, the lawsuit claims, and anyone could have looked into the room and seen what was going on.

Cannabis was never found on the student, the lawsuit states. The suit says school administrators were prompted to search the teen after getting a tip from another student.

The Daily Herald knows the name of the mother but is not naming her in this story to protect the identity of her son. She is asking for $200,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $1 million in punitive damages, according to the suit.

The teen told his mother about the search after he returned home from school that Friday and she contacted Round Lake police.

According to the suit, Round Lake police officials would not take a report that Saturday when contacted about the incident, but contacted the woman later in the week after checking out her story.

Round Lake Police Chief Mike Gillette said the middle school is in the jurisdiction of the Round Lake Heights Police Department. Attempts to reach a spokesman from Round Lake Heights Police Department were unsuccessful Thursday.

Search: Mother called police after student told her

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.