A Wisconsin school district's superintendent has been charged, accused of making six high school girls take off their clothes to be searched for vaping devices.
Kelly Casper, the Suring Public Schools superintendent, was charged Monday in Oconto County Circuit Court with six counts of false imprisonment in the Jan. 18 incident. Her first court appearance is scheduled for March 23.
The 51-year-old was placed on paid administrative leave after a school board meeting Wednesday night, the Green Bay Press Gazette reports.
According to the criminal complaint, Casper and the principal were investigating reports of students vaping during school hours, with Casper telling investigators she was told they would hide the vapes "on them" in their "undergarments" during the school day.
Casper brought six female students, ranging in age from 14 to 17, into the nurse's office bathroom, where one by one she had them take off their clothes as she searched for vaping devices, charges say. In most cases, the girls were told to strip down to their underwear and bra, and were told to pull their bra away from their body.
Most of the students told investigators they felt like they had to take off their clothes and they were uncomfortable, the complaint says.
The school nurse, who served as a witness during the searches, said Casper searched each student the same way, and that Casper stressed to the students she was worried they headed down the wrong path and she cared about them, charges say.
Casper provided investigators certificates showing training she attended where she learned about where students hide items, how to question students, to have a second person assist in searching students, and the laws pertaining to school searchers, the charges state.
Most of the families whose kids were involved in the searches have hired civil rights attorney Jeff Olson, after the Oconto District Attorney in February said he wouldn't file charges in the case because it didn't meet the state's definition of a strip search, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
The district attorney changed course this week and filed charges, noting the initial investigation focused on the search of the students and not their confinement. Investigators reviewed the case and found Casper did not have the legal authority to confine the students in the restroom, The Associated Press reports.
The charges accuse Casper of intentionally confining each student without their consent and with the knowledge that she did not have lawful authority to do so. If convicted, each charge of false imprisonment carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Suring, Wisconsin, is about 50 miles from Green Bay, in eastern Wisconsin.