NP School Searches

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NP school district said to be investigating report of search

By Jason C. Mattox

A strip search of students has led to multiple investigations in and around the North Panola School District.

North Panola School District Conservator Dr. Oscar Love said one investigation, regarding whether proper protocol was followed by district personnel, is being conducted by he and board attorney Nathaniel Armistead.

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The investigation is pertaining to a strip search of eight or more students in school bathrooms last week where the high school principal, Demond Radcliff, conducted a strip search of students after a drug dog made a hit on a backpack.

“Searches are allowed and we do have a policy in place,” Love said. “I would respectfully deny a request to give you a copy because the matter is still under investigation.”

Love said he did not know who contacted the K-9 unit, but added that only he, Radcliff or the assistant principal can request the unit unless there is probable cause from the school resource officer.

“We have not been able to clarify why the search was conducted, but it is my understanding that historically, dog searches have been conducted in the district,” he said.

Drug dogs have been present at the beginning of school as a precautionary measure in the past.

“This was a group of students that were in class near the backpack when the dog hit,” Love said. “I am not sure if it was the entire class that was questioned and searched or not.”

Love said the district is still unsure who was the owner of the backpack, but no charges have been filed.

One parent, identified in a police report as Linda Hall according to published reports, has filed a complaint with the Sardis Police Department and the complaint is being investigated.

Police Chief Marcel Jojola acknowledged the complaint, but said the investigation is being conducted by the school district because there was no criminal activity reported.

According to the statement issued by Linda Hall, her son, a 17-year-old student at North Panola High, was strip searched without her permission.

“They brought in K-9s to the classroom and they hit on something,” the complaint said. “The boys were taken into the boys restroom and the girls to the girls restroom. They patted them down and never found anything.”

The complaint also said the K-9 officer was still in the classroom when the searches were conducted.

“I am aware that there has been one parent who has filed a complaint, but we have not heard from any other parents at this time,” Love said. “I have instructed the personnel here at the district office to forward any comments or concerns regarding this incident directly to me.

“We have assured her that this matter is under investigation and that the facts will be revealed and that the appropriate action will be taken at the end of the investigation that is in the best interest of all parties,” he continued.