Teens Strip-Searched For $70, Now Suing

Lawyer says the school must pay

Three students at Pine Academy, the Ansonia Public Schools' alternative school, say they were strip-searched December 2.

They were among seven students strip-searched by two male teachers, according to their lawyer, Rob Berke.

"One student can't go back to school, another student has been throwing up before he goes to school, and the third has been back at school but he's having a tough time. I think he feels very awkward being at school, people are treating him differently," said Berke.

It stemmed from another teacher's report of a missing $70, Berke said.Carol Merlone, Ansonia's school superintendent, has not returned calls for comment.

Berke said he has heard the principal at Pine Academy has been put on leave, along with the teachers involved.

He believes strip-searching would be legal only in the event of an emergency, not in the investigation of a reported theft.  He adds that in 1991, 11 students in New Haven sued the public schools in federal court for illegal strip searches.

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