SURING, Wis. (WFRV) – Charges related to the confinement of six female students with the Suring School District for an alleged strip search on Jan. 18 are being filed against a local Superintendent.
According to a release, the Oconto County District Attorney Edward Burke Jr. reviewed statements and reports provided by the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department regarding incidents that occurred on Jan. 18 at Suring Schools, alleging that students were strip-searched.
The focus of that investigation was the search of the students, not the confinement. At the time no charges were issued related to the incident.
State officials say they then conducted a thorough review of the relevant State Statutes and Administrative Code provisions relating to the ability of a school employee to confine a student and concluded that Superintendent Kelly Casper lacked legal authority to confine the students in a small restroom located off the nurse’s office in the Suring School Public School complex.
The Oconto County District Attorney explains Casper directed the school nurse to accompany students to the room and directed the children to remove their clothing once they were in the room.
According to statements, Casper stood in the doorway. Once the children removed their clothing, statements say any opportunity students had to escape would have subjected them to further shame and embarrassment.
In a criminal complaint against Casper, it states that one student did have a “used/empty” vape cartridge fall out of her bra during the search. When a different student was searched, the complaint states that Casper found a vape cartridge on the student in their jacket pocket. The complaint later states that another female student did tell Casper she had a vape on her and still got searched.
Investigation reveals none of the children involved were given the opportunity to leave. Officials say the only choice students were given was to have the search conducted by a police officer or Casper. In addition, none of the children were given the opportunity to contact their parents before being confined in the bathroom.
The criminal complaint further states that Casper provided certificates showing different training she had attended through the years where information was provided on where students hide items, how to properly question, having a second person to assist in the search and searching students, and the laws pertaining to school searches.
The District Attorney says, “Whether Casper knew that the students did not consent and knew she did not have the lawful authority to detain the six children are questions of fact that are best left for a jury to determine based upon the evidence presented at trial.”
The release goes on to say that the facts and surrounding circumstances lead the State to decide that the children involved did not give consent to being confined.
The State reports it has filed one count related to false imprisonment for each child involved in the incident for a total of six counts.
False Imprisonment is a Class H Felony and the maximum potential penalties for a Class H Felony are six years of confinement, a $10,000.00 fine, or both.
Given that this is now a pending criminal matter, Oconto County District Attorney Edward Burke Jr. says no further comments will be made at this time to ensure that all parties involved are being treated fairly.
An initial court appearance is scheduled for March 23.