Safford Unified School District #

1 V. REDDING 129 S.Ct. 2633 (2009)


Redding (P), a 13-year-old girl was called to the assistant principal's (Wilson) office. He showed her a day planner, unzipped and open flat on his desk, in which there were several knives, lighters, a permanent marker, and a cigarette. P said the planner was hers, but she had lent it to Marissa Glines. She stated that none of the items in the planner belonged to her. He showed P four white prescription-strength ibuprofen 400-mg pills, and one over-the-counter blue naproxen 200-mg pill, all used for pain and inflammation but banned under school rules without advance permission. P said she knew nothing about the pills. Wilson told her that he had received a report that she was giving these pills to fellow students; she denied it and let Wilson search her belongings. Helen Romero, an administrative assistant, came into the office. They found nothing. Wilson instructed Romero to take P to the school nurse’s office to search her clothes for pills. Romero and the nurse, Peggy Schwallier, asked her to remove her jacket, socks, and shoes, leaving her in stretch pants and a T-shirt (both without pockets), which she was then asked to remove. P was told to pull her bra out and to the side and shake it, and to pull out the elastic on her underpants, thus exposing her breasts and pelvic area to some degree. No pills were found. P's mother filed suit against Safford Unified School District #1 (D) as well as Wilson, Romero, and Schwallier for conducting a strip search in violation of P’s Fourth Amendment rights. Ds moved for summary judgment, raising a defense of qualified immunity. The District Court granted the motion on the ground that there was no Fourth Amendment violation, and a panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed. A closely divided Circuit sitting en banc reversed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.