Superintendent charged after students allegedly ordered to strip during vape search in Wisconsin

SURING, Wis. (WBAY/Gray News) — The Oconto County prosecutor has charged the Suring School District superintendent with six counts of false imprisonment.

The charges stem from the January search of six students who were asked to strip down to their underwear to search for vape cartridges, WBAY reported.

District Attorney Edward Burke Jr. said Superintendent Kelly Casper directed the children to a small bathroom next to the nurse’s desk. Burke said Casper told the kids to take their clothes off and she stood in the doorway.

“Once the children removed their clothes, any opportunity they had to escape would have subjected them to further shame and embarrassment,” Burke wrote in a press release announcing the charges Monday.

Superintendent Kelly Casper led the children into a small bathroom next to the nurse’s office. Burke says Casper told the kids to take their clothes off and she stood in the doorway, the district attorney said.(Source: WBAY)

He said no child had been given the opportunity to leave or contact their parents before being confined. “The only choice they were given was to have the search carried out by a police officer or by Casper,” he said.

Burke previously declined to press charges, saying the search did not meet the legal definition of a “strip search” since the students were in their underwear. He said the sheriff’s office investigation focused on finding the students, not locking them up.

Burke said the bogus jail charges came after researching state laws and administrative codes on how school employees can confine students.

According to the criminal complaint, forcible confinement is a crime. The superintendent faces up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count if convicted.

“I feel a lot of relief that something is being done, so we’re not setting an example in our little village of Suring for schools across the state of Wisconsin to allow this stuff to happen to our students.” , said Nicole, who declined to give her last name since her daughter is a victim.

Jeff Olson, a Madison-based civil rights attorney hired by some of the parents, claimed the students’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

“One of these students had given them his e-cigarette. They were still strip searched right down to their underwear and bras,” Olson said. “I think it’s bound to be a very traumatic experience for young teenage girls.”

Olson said the prosecutor’s criminal case could impact his civil suit against Suring Public Schools.

“Sometimes when they’re facing criminal charges, the individuals I’m suing for damages take the Fifth Amendment,” Olson said.

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Elizabeth J. Harless