A federal appeals court today upheld immunity for administrators at a Kentucky middle school over their role in turning in a student to law enforcement officials for giving a prescription pill to another student.
The student and her parents sued the Grant County school district and various officials, alleging that their actions violated the girl’s rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution be officials essentialy coerced a confession out of her.
The alleged facts are a little bizarre, because according to court papers, the 7th grade student identified as A.E. went to the school nurse on the last day of school in 2006 to get take her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medication. Because it was the last day, the nurse insisted that the student take the prescription bottle, which had four Adderall pills remaining, with her.
Later, another student asked A.E. for one of the pills, and after initially refusing, A.E. relented and gave her friend a pill. This eventually got back to school officials, who called A.E. into the office the next fall and made her write out an account of what happened. The deputy principal turned the statement over to a sherrif’s deputy, as the district contends was required under state law. The girl ended up in juvenile court, where she was required to complete a diversion program.
In its Oct. 10 opinion in S.E. v. Grant County Board of Education, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, held that the girl’s rights were not violated. The court held that the student was not seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment when she was forced to come to the school office. And the assistant principal was not acting at the behest of law enforcement when he required A.E. the write her statement, the court said.
A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.