On April 14, when the students of Worth County High School returned from spring break, the Worth County Sheriff’s Office violated of the children’s 4th Amendment rights by conducting an illegal drug search of all 900 students that yielded absolutely nothing.
Once parents found out what happened to their children they were furious at not only the sheriff’s office but the school as well.
“It’s essentially a fourth amendment violation,” said attorney Mark Begnaud. “It’s 900 illegal searches, suspicion-less pat downs, suspicion-less searches.”
Sheriff Jeff Hobby stands by this rights violation even though one of the deputies had corrective action against them due to their pat downs being intrusive, noting that as long as a school administrator was present, the search of the children was legal.
According to the student handbook, school officials may search a student only if there is reasonable suspicion the student has an illegal item.
As WALB reports, Worth County Schools attorney Tommy Coleman said in order for the Sheriff’s Office to search any students, they’d had to have reason to believe there was some kind of criminal activity or the student had possession of contraband or drugs.“If you don’t have that then this search would violate an individual’s rights,” said Coleman.
Interim Worth County Superintendent Lawrence Walters said he understands parents concerns about the drug search at Worth County High school on Friday, according to WALB. “We did not give permission but they didn’t ask for permission, he just said, the sheriff, that he was going to do it after spring break,” said Walters. “Under no circumstances did we approve touching any students.”
Not only did this search turn up no results but the Sylvester Police Department did a search on March 17 — just a few weeks before — and found no drugs.
NAACP branch president Benjamin Whidby called for the removal of sheriff Jeff Hobby and he plans on starting that process with a petition and meetings, but he said they’re not stopping until they see this through. “I doubt this fire ever burns out until he’s (Hobby) gone,” said Whidby.
If you would like to leave a comment to the Worth County Sheriff you can on their Facebook.