Northeastern Wisconsin school administrator faces charges after students were forced to remove their clothes during a search

The district administrator of a northeastern Wisconsin school has been charged with six counts of false imprisonment after six students were forced to remove their clothes to be searched for vaping equipment in January .

Suring school administrator Kelly Casper confined six students to a restroom next to the school nurse’s office to be searched on Jan. 18, according to a press release from the county district attorney. d’Oconto, Edward Burke. Burke initially did not press charges because he said the search did not meet Wisconsin’s legal definition of a strip search. The new charges relate rather to confinement; Burke said in the press release that Casper did not have the legal authority to confine the students to the restroom and that they did not consent to being confined.

Casper did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the DA, Casper ordered the students to remove their clothes and stood in the doorway. The students did not have the opportunity to contact their parents before being confined to the toilets.

“Once the children removed their clothes, any opportunity they had to escape would have subjected them to further shame and embarrassment,” Burke said in the press release. “None of the children involved were given the opportunity to leave. The only choice given to them was to have the search carried out by a police officer or by Casper.”

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Under Wisconsin law, false imprisonment is a Class H felony punishable by up to six years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.

In February, some of the families of the girls who were searched hired civil rights attorney Jeff Scott Olson. Olson has previously represented the Superior City Attorney in a defamation case, a group of Ashland County women who alleged sexual misconduct at the Ashland County Jail, and a man who was arrested during a crackdown on protests at the state capitol in 2014. He didn’t say how many families hired him.

Olson said the new charges were unexpected because he and the families met Burke on Zoom a few days ago, and Burke was sticking to his original decision not to press charges.

“I’ve been practicing law for almost 45 years and I pretty much thought nothing surprised me anymore,” Olson said. “It is done.”

Olson said his office should now be able to obtain records from the sheriff’s office investigation into the January lock-up and search, as those are only available under the access law. public records only after an investigation is complete – usually by a decision not to press charges, or the creation of a criminal case by filing a complaint. After gathering information from law enforcement and the school, he says he will likely submit a settlement proposal to the district insurance company. If they can’t reach a settlement agreement, Olson said he’s prepared to sue in federal court for violating students’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.

Martha K. Merrill