United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
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For D. H., a minor by his mother, Angela Dawson, Plaintiff: Adam B. Wolf, Tracey B. Cowan, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Wolf Legal, P.C., San Francisco, CA; Craig Lewis Goodmark, Goodmark Law Firm, LLC, Decatur, GA; Gerald R. Weber, Law Offices of Gerry Weber, LLC, Atlanta, GA.
For Clayton County School District, Defendant: Charles L. Bachman, Jr., Lauren Alane Nations, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers, LLC, Marietta, GA.
For Tyrus McDowell, former Eddie White Academy Assistant Principal; individually, Defendant: John C. Jones, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of John C. Jones, Marietta, Ga; William F. Amideo, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of William F. Amideo, Alpharetta, GA.
Amy Totenberg, United States District Judge.
This case involves the constitutionality of a strip search conducted by a school official on a seventh grade boy in the presence of other students. It is before the Court on the parties' Cross Motions for Summary Judgment [Docs. 112, 114, 116, 117] and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Declaration of Latasha Lowe [Doc. 137]. The Court's rulings are set forth below.
D.H. was a twelve-year old seventh grader at Eddie White Academy on February 8, 2011 when he was required to strip down to his underwear by an assistant principal searching for marijuana. ( See D.H. Dep. at 7, 14, 59.) Eddie White Academy (" EWA" ) is a public school in the Clayton County School District consisting of grades kindergarten through eighth grade. (Ratcliff Dep. at 80; McDowell Dep. at 152.) Although this case involves only the claims of D.H., he was the fourth student to be searched for suspected possession of marijuana at the school. Therefore it is helpful to first discuss the events leading up to the search of D.H. to put the search in context.
On February 8, 2011, EWA Assistant Principal Sheneaise Williams Ratcliff (" Ratcliff" ) was informed by the School Resource Officer (" SRO" ), Ricky Redding (" Deputy Redding" ), that a student had reported that " [D.V.] had drugs in the school and was passing them around the classroom."  (Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1; Ratcliff Dep. at 10; Redding Dep. at 51, 86-87.) According to Ratcliff, " there had been prior situations with D.V. and speculation of drugs," and that he had been searched on several other occasions for suspicion of bringing weapons and drugs to school. (Ratcliff Dep. at 32-33, 40.)
A. Searches of D.V., T.D., and R.C.
At that time, the seventh grade students were in their first period classes. (Ratcliff
Dep. at 39-40.) Ratcliff pulled D.V.'s schedule of classes, and went to retrieve him out of his first period art class. ( Id. at 39.) Ratcliff asked D.V. to bring his book bag with him to her office. ( Id.) Once in her office, Ratcliff asked D.V. to open his book bag and empty its contents. ( Id. at 39-41; Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1.) D.V. complied, emptied all of the contents of his book bag on a table, and Ratcliff looked inside the bag's zipper compartment. (Ratcliff Dep. at 40-41.) It appeared nothing was in the book bag. ( Id.) Although she does not remember asking D.V. to pull his pockets inside out, Ratcliff testified that she " might have because that was typical." (Ratcliff Dep. at 41.) Eventually during the search, D.V. stated " I know what you all are looking for," and identified another seventh grade student, R.C., as someone he had seen with marijuana. (Ratcliff Dep. at 42-43; Redding Dep. at 87-88.) Although Ratcliff testified that D.V. did not mention where R.C. had hidden the marijuana, according to her February 9, 2011 written statement, D.V. indicated that the marijuana was in R.C.'s book bag. (Ratcliff Dep. at 43; Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1.)
Ratcliff then escorted D.V. to the front office to wait while she went to retrieve R.C. from his class. (Ratcliff Dep. at 43-44; Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1.) Ratcliff brought R.C. to Deputy Redding's office and asked him whether he had drugs on him. (Ratcliff Dep. at 44-46; Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1.) According to Ratcliff, after R.C. denied having drugs, she asked him to open and empty his book bag and she performed a search of the book bag and found nothing. (Ratcliff Dep. at 46-48; see also Redding Dep. at 89.) During the search, Ratcliff perceived R.C. to be visibly nervous and thought he was being untruthful about having drugs. (Ratcliff Dep. at 49.) Ratcliff also testified that she believes she would have asked R.C. to turn his pockets inside out. (Ratcliff Dep. at 50.) R.C. then informed Ratcliff that T.D., also a student in the seventh grade, was in possession of marijuana at school. (Ratcliff Dep. at 49-50; Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1; Redding Dep. at 90.)
By this time, the seventh grade students were in their second period classes. (Ratcliff Dep. at 51.) Ratcliff left Deputy Redding's office to go find T.D. in his second period class. (Ratcliff Dep. at 50-51.) While Ratcliff was gone to find T.D., Deputy Redding waited in the office with R.C. According to Deputy Redding, R.C. was fidgeting. Redding asked R.C. to remove his shoes and socks. (Redding Dep. at 91, 98.) R.C. removed his shoes and socks and a bag of marijuana and two rolled blunts fell out onto the floor. (Redding Dep. at 91-92.) Deputy Redding asked R.C. to pick the marijuana up and put it on the desk beside him. (Redding Dep. at 92.) Deputy Redding informed Ratcliff upon her return that marijuana had been found on R.C., who indicated he had gotten the marijuana from D.V. (Redding Dep. at 92.) R.C. told Ratcliff that D.V. had marijuana in his book bag. (Redding Dep. at 99.)
When Ratcliff returned to Deputy Redding's office with T.D., Deputy Redding said to him " you know what we're looking for so . . . give it to us." (Ratcliff Dep. at 52; Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1; Redding Dep. at 92-93.) In response, T.D. " turned away from [Ratcliff,] unbuttoned his pants and reached in what appeared to be his underwear and pulled out" marijuana wrapped in plastic. (Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1; Ratcliff Dep. at 52-55; Redding Dep. at 93 (stating that T.D. " turned away from Ms. Ratcliff, and he reached down in his pants and pulled out a bag of marijuana and gave it to Ms. Ratcliff" ).) According to Ratcliff, she saw T.D. reach in his pants and believed he was reaching into his underwear " [b]ecause he reached kind of deep and it was in the front. It wasn't a side pocket. It was directly in the front" and he did not appear to be pulling it out " from between his belt and the outside of his pants." (Ratcliff Dep. at 54-56.) T.D. turned around, with his pants slightly undone, and put the marijuana he took out from inside his pants onto Deputy Redding's desk. (Ratcliff Dep. at 55, 86.) The " bag" of marijuana found on T.D. was about the size of the exhibit sticker used for the deposition exhibits in the case. (McDowell Dep. 104-105.)
In her deposition, Ratcliff states that T.D. told her that he got the drugs from D.H. (Ratcliff Dep. at 57.) However, her February 9, 2011 written statement does not indicate that D.H. was identified by T.D. as having drugs. After counsel referred Ratcliff to her written statement, Ratcliff stated that she was not in the room when she believes T.D. implicated D.H. but " just assumed it was the next child," apparently because D.H. was the next student that Deputy Redding asked to see. (Ratcliff Dep. at 61-64.) Ratcliff's written statement indicates that she left the room after T.D. produced the marijuana from his underwear in order to get fellow Assistant Principal Tyrus McDowell (" McDowell" ) to take over the investigation. (Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1; Ratcliff Dep. at 57, 60; McDowell Dep. 88.) Her written statement further indicates that when she returned to Deputy Redding's office to meet Mr. McDowell she observed more drugs on his desk and asked Deputy Redding where the drugs had come from. (Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1.) Redding informed her that the drugs had been found in R.C.'s sock. ( Id.) Mr. McDowell then arrived to continue the searches. ( Id.) " Deputy Redding later called for [Ratcliff] to bring [D.V.'s] book bag to his office. Upon bringing the book bag he asked to see D.H." ( Id.) Ratcliff's written statement is consistent with: (1) Deputy Redding's testimony that T.D. said that the marijuana came from R.C., (Redding Dep. at 97), (2) Mr. McDowell's testimony that he asked Ratcliff to get D.H. after searching D.V. and that it was D.V. who had identified D.H., (McDowell Dep. at 111, 158), and (3) T.D.'s testimony that he never stated to anyone that D.H. had marijuana at school, (T.D. Dep. at 52).
Ratcliff decided to turn the situation over to McDowell because T.D. seemed embarrassed and uncomfortable after reaching into his underwear in front of her during the search for the marijuana. (Ratcliff Dep. at 57, 87-88.) She left the room and went to call Mr. McDowell to let him know what had transpired with the search of T.D. (Ratcliff Dep. at 89.) Ratcliff testified that she informed McDowell that the student had " pulled drugs out
from what appeared to be his underwear." (Ratcliff Dep. at 57-58.)
According to McDowell, Ratcliff called and asked him whether he had ever been aware of an incident where a student would hide marijuana in his or her underwear, to which McDowell responded he had not. (McDowell Dep. at 88-89.) McDowell testified that Ratcliff advised him that one or more students had hidden marijuana in their underwear, while her testimony indicates she only identified one student. (McDowell Dep. at 89; Ratcliff Dep. at 57-58.) Although at the time of his deposition, McDowell could not recall specifically whether Ratcliff said the marijuana was found in the student's underwear, his waistband, or his pants, in his Responses to Plaintiff's Interrogatories, McDowell indicated that it was his " understanding that marijuana had already been found in the waistband of the underwear of one or both students who had already been searched." (McDowell Dep. at 98; Doc. 138-8 at 3.) McDowell was not aware at the time that only one student had been found with marijuana in his underwear and believed that it may have been two students. ( Id.)
When McDowell arrived at Deputy Redding's office, he observed T.D. and R.C. in handcuffs. (McDowell Dep. at 90.) McDowell proceeded down the hall to the front office to locate Ratcliff. ( Id. at 90-91.) McDowell found Ratcliff and D.V. in the front office, McDowell and Ratcliff spoke, and Ratcliff informed McDowell that D.V. was possibly connected to the marijuana found on the other students. (McDowell Dep. at 91-94.) McDowell believed that Ratcliff had already searched D.V.'s book bag and found nothing, but that she had not yet " searched him." ( Id. at 94.) McDowell then took D.V. down to Deputy Redding's office so that he could perform a search of D.V. with Deputy Redding as a witness. ( Id. at 94-95.) McDowell did not know who had reported D.V. as having drugs or the details of what had been reported to Ratcliff regarding his connection to the drugs previously found on the students he observed handcuffed in Redding's office (T.D. and R.C.). ( Id. at 97-98.) At that time, McDowell was not aware of any other students alleged to be in possession of drugs at the school that day. (McDowell Dep. at 99.)
McDowell and Deputy Redding both asked D.V. whether he had any drugs on him, to which he responded " no." (McDowell Dep. at 99.) At this time, McDowell observed that both T.D. and R.C. were crying. ( Id.) McDowell then proceeded to search D.V., asking him to remove his shoes, socks, and top shirt, and to turn his pant pockets inside out. (McDowell Dep. at 106.) As McDowell observed that D.V. was wearing elastic basketball shorts underneath his pants, he asked D.V. to pull his pants down and turn the pockets of his shorts inside out. ( Id. at 106-107.) McDowell then asked D.V. to pull his basketball shorts down to determine whether he was hiding drugs in the elastic waistband of the shorts. ( Id. at 107.) At this point, D.V. was standing in his underwear which were " boxer briefs," which McDowell explained unlike " boxers" have elastic at the waist, leg, and the bottom. ( Id. at 107, 109.) McDowell asked D.V. to " pull those away from his actual physical person, away and down, just to make sure that there was . . . nothing hidden in the elastic part of those." ( Id. at 107.) When D.V. complied by pulling his underwear down, McDowell could see D.V.'s genitals from where he was standing. ( Id.) Once McDowell saw that D.V. did not have any drugs hidden in his underwear, he told
D.V. to pull his pants back up and put his shirt back on. ( Id.) Having found no drugs on D.V.'s person, McDowell called Ratcliff to bring D.V.'s book bag from the office. (Ratcliff Dep. at 59; Ratcliff Dep. Ex. 1.) McDowell searched D.V.'s book bag and found a small compartment with an Altoid tin containing marijuana. (McDowell Dep. at 110.)
According to McDowell, D.V. then identified D.H. as another student possibly having marijuana in his possession. (McDowell Dep. at 111.) Without questioning D.V. further about the specific facts concerning D.H.'s alleged possession of marijuana, McDowell then called Ratcliff over the radio to ask her to bring D.H. to Deputy Redding's office. ( Id.) R.C. and T.D. both testified that R.C. told McDowell and Deputy Redding that D.H. did not have any drugs on him before they pulled D.H. out of class. (R.C. Dep. at 91; T.D. Dep. at 52-53.)
B. Search of D.H.
D.H. was in his Language Arts class when Ratcliff came to the classroom and told him to bring his book bag and come with her. (D.H. Dep. at 81, 84; see Ratcliff Dep. at 65-66.) Ratcliff escorted D.H. to Deputy Redding's office. (D.H. Dep. at 85.) Ratcliff did not tell D.H. why he had been called out of class. ( Id. at 86; Ratcliff Dep. at 66.) Ratcliff had never had any issues with D.H. prior to the events of February 8, 2011 nor had he ever been reported as having brought illegal drugs to school. (Ratcliff Dep. at 66.) Ratcliff testified that while one could make the assumption that because some students had marijuana in their underwear that some others might also, she personally did not anticipate that D.H. might also have marijuana in his underwear even after observing T.D. apparently pulling marijuana from his underwear. (Ratcliff Dep. at 89-90.) There is no evidence that McDowell endeavored to talk with Ratcliff about her perceptions of D.H. prior to proceeding with his search of D.H. Defendants have not pointed to any evidence that McDowell took any action to determine whether D.H. was known to associate with D.V. or any of the other students who had been found with marijuana, or whether D.H. had been suspected previously of drug involvement. Nor did McDowell talk with Ratcliff or any other administrator about D.H.'s prior disciplinary record or lack of one.
Deputy Redding, McDowell, D.V., T.D., and R.C. were present in Deputy Redding's office when D.H. arrived with Ratcliff. (D.H. Dep. at 88-89.) Deputy Redding informed D.H. that drugs had been found at the school and he and McDowell wanted to know whether he had any drugs on him. (D.H. Dep. at 90.) D.H. denied having any drugs on him. ( Id.) Redding asked him " are you sure because you are going to get searched," and D.H. responded that " yes," he was sure that he was not in possession of any drugs. ( Id.)
According to McDowell, when D.H. entered Deputy Redding's office, McDowell
explained to him that he had been identified or accused as being in possession of marijuana on the school campus. (McDowell Dep. at 114.) McDowell informed D.H. that " because of the severity of the situation" he was going to have to search him " just to make sure" he did not have any drugs on him. ( Id. at 114-115, 119.) McDowell then told D.H. to empty his book bag. (D.H. Dep. at 91.) McDowell looked through the pencil boxes, zippers, and pouches of D.H.'s book bag. ( Id. at 92.)
McDowell then proceeded to search D.H.'s person. (D.H. Dep. at 92.) McDowell first told D.H. to take off his shoes. ( Id. at 93; see also McDowell Dep. at 119 (stating that he asked D.H. to remove his shoes and socks).) Then he asked D.H. to empty his pockets. (D.H. Dep. at 94; see also McDowell Dep. at 119.) After D.H. emptied out his pockets, McDowell told him to take off his pants. (D.H. Dep. at 94; see also McDowell Dep. at 119 (stating that he asked D.H. to pull his pants down).) D.H. dropped his pants to the floor, stepped his legs out of them, and pushed them aside with his foot. ( Id. at 95.) Underneath his pants, D.H. was wearing red and navy blue Tommy Hilfiger boxers -- the kind with an elastic waist but that are loose around the thigh. ( Id. at 94-95, 113.)
According to D.H. at this point in time, R.C. said aloud that D.H. did not have any drugs. (D.H. Dep. at 96.) D.H. testified that Deputy Redding responded by saying " why didn't you say that before we brought him in here," to which R.C. stated that he had told McDowell. (D.H. Dep. at 97.) Deputy Redding testified that R.C. told McDowell that D.H. did not have drugs on him and that D.V. was lying. (Redding Dep. at 127.) According to Deputy Redding, R.C. made this statement after McDowell had searched D.H. (Redding Dep. at 127-128.)
At some point, McDowell asked D.H. to remove his uniform polo-style shirt, which according to D.H. was the only shirt he was wearing that day. (D.H. Dep. at 99.) D.H. testified that he was not wearing an undershirt. ( Id.) McDowell next told D.H. to flip his socks at the top to see if he was hiding anything under the band of the sock. (D.H. Dep. at 100.) McDowell then told D.H. to take off his socks. (D.H. Dep. at 100-101.) Finally, McDowell pointed at D.H.'s boxers and said " take those off." (D.H. Dep. at 102; see also McDowell Dep. at 120 (stating that he asked D.H. to " pull his underwear away from his body and in a down motion just in case if [sic] he had anything in his -- on his person, it would fall to -- fall to the ground" ).) D.H. asked McDowell " do I have to do this here," to which McDowell responded yes. (D.H. Dep. at 102.) D.H. complied by turning to the left (with his back to his classmates) and pulling his underwear down to his ankles. (D.H. Dep. at 103, 105, 107.) McDowell paused, bent over and observed D.H.'s genitalia. (D.H. Dep. at 108; McDowell Dep. at 120-121.) After finding nothing hidden in D.H.'s underwear, McDowell asked him to put his clothes back on. (D.H. Dep. at 108; McDowell Dep. 120.) No marijuana or other illegal contraband was found on D.H. or in his belongings. (McDowell Dep. 124; Def.'s Resp. to PSMF ¶ 10.) Prior to requiring D.H. to strip down to his underwear to search him for marijuana, McDowell did not conduct a search of his locker, gym
locker, desk, wastebasket, or classroom. (McDowell Dep. at 126-129.)
According to McDowell, D.H. asked whether they could go to the restroom to do the search. (McDowell Dep. at 120.) McDowell denied D.H.'s request because as he explained he needed Deputy Redding to be a witness to the search. ( Id. at 125.) McDowell admitted that he could have called Ratcliff in to observe the other students in Deputy Redding's office while he and Deputy Redding went to the bathroom to conduct the search of D.H., but he did not think of that as an option at the time. ( Id.)
After searching D.H., McDowell escorted D.H. to the counselor's office to call his mother to advise her of the search and then sent D.H. back to class. (D.H. Dep. at 109-110.) D.H.'s stepfather immediately came to pick him up from school and D.H. never returned to EWA. ( Id. at 110-112, 14.) D.H. was immediately withdrawn from EWA as a result of the search and began attending a different school. ( Id. at 14.)
D.H. suffered deep embarrassment as a result of being subjected to the strip search by McDowell. ( Id. at 69, 122.) D.H. never again wore that pair of underwear and threw them away. ( Id. at 114.) D.H. was teased by a classmate who heard about the search and called him " Spiderman," a reference, he believed, made regarding his underwear. ( Id. at 118.) D.H. testified that since the search, he has had difficulty trusting adults in positions of authority such as teachers, principals, and officers. ( Id. at 122.) The embarrassment of the search also changed his behavior. Prior to the search, D.H. would change clothes in the presence of his teammates before and after a sports practice. As a result of the search, he became uncomfortable undressing in front others and no longer changes for football and basketball in front of his teammates, but instead chooses to change in a bathroom stall. ( Id. at 50-59, 122.) Some of his teammates have asked him why he changes in the bathroom stall and thought it was a joke when he told them he felt weird changing in front of them. ( Id. at 57.) D.H. testified that he now feels like " somebody could be watching" him. ( Id. at 56.)
Assistant Principals Ratcliff and McDowell considered the presence of marijuana at school a serious problem and thus believed that administrators could search students and their belongings to find marijuana. ( See Ratcliff Dep. at 94 (testifying that " marijuana and guns in schools" is " a very serious problem" and that if marijuana is found at school the administrators need to find it); McDowell Dep. at 114, 119 (testifying that the students searched were searched for marijuana because of the severity of the situation).) McDowell considered the presence of drugs at the school to be particularly problematic because of the unique situation at EWA which includes kindergarten through eighth grade. (McDowell Dep. at 152.) Although the school was architecturally broken out into separate wings with " K through 5" on one side and " 6 through 8" on the other, students at EWA share the common areas, including the cafeteria, library, courtyards, and front office, and sixth through eighth grade girls had some courses on the elementary wing. (McDowell Dep. at 153.)
In her positions as counselor and assistant principal, Ratcliff had received training as to the different places students will hide drugs, including hiding it in their pants. (Ratcliff Dep. at 67-68.) The February 8, 2011 search of T.D. was the first instance during which Ratcliff had experienced
a student hiding drugs inside or beneath his pants (other than in pockets). (Ratcliff Dep. at 67-68.) The three students, R.C., T.D., and D.V. were found with less than 1 ounce of marijuana each. (Redding Dep. 91, 93.)
C. CCSD Search Policies
According to Plaintiff, the official CCSD search policy at issue in February 2011, as set forth in the administrative regulation JD-R(1) provides:
INTERROGATIONS AND SEARCHES
The principal or designee of each school in the District is authorized to conduct reasonable interviews of students in order to properly investigate and address student misconduct. Students who are suspected of misconduct or of violating the Student Code of Conduct may be questioned about misconduct by school staff. Students who may have been witnesses to misconduct on the part of other students, faculty, and/or staff may be asked to provide oral or written statements regarding what they know about the event being investigated. Principals or designees may interview students without prior notice or permission of parents/guardians.
As permitted by applicable authority, the principal or designee of each school in the District may conduct reasonable inspection of students' school lockers, articles carried upon their persons, and vehicles in order to properly investigate and address student misconduct.
Searches based on reasonable suspicion may proceed without hindrance or delay, and they should be conducted as directed by school administration. Searches will be based on a reasonable suspicion of the presence of harmful or prohibited items.
Lockers, desks and school/classroom storage areas are the property of the District. Students shall not consider these areas to be private.
(Hendrix Dep. Ex. 10; Hendrix Dep. at 77 (testifying that this was the search policy that was in place at the time the Plaintiff's search was conducted in February 2011).)
According to CCSD there are two search policies at issue in this case: (1) the official administrative regulation set forth in JD-R(1) (quoted above), and (2) a statement regarding " Search and Seizure" in an undated version of a CCSD Student Handbook. ( See CCSD SMF ¶ ¶ 6, 7; CCSD Resp. to PSMF ¶ 13.) The undated version of the Student Handbook provides:
Search and Seizure
Clayton County Public Schools may use metal detectors, sniffing dogs or other detection devices, such as wands, etc., to ensure school safety. Routine unannounced searches of cars on school property, school buses, lockers, school computers, and student desks will be conducted by school officials. Students and parents are hereby notified that a student has no expectation of privacy in these locations, including in student vehicles if the student chooses to exercise the privilege of parking on campus.
Unauthorized items and items that threaten the safety of self and others will be seized and the appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.
(CCSD SMF ¶ 7; Lowe Decl. Ex. 2.)
D. Evidence of Administrator Training and Other Searches
At the time of the February 8, 2011 search, CCSD employees, including McDowell had not received any training on how or when to conduct a strip search, including that:
(a) individual suspicion was required to conduct a strip search of a student, (CCSD Resp. to PSMF ¶ 1);
(b) a strip search could be conducted only in situations where there was a belief that a student possessed contraband that could pose a danger if not found, (CCSD Resp. to PSMF ¶ 2);
(c) the age of the student must be taken into account when deciding whether to conduct a strip search or how extensive a search should be, (CCSD Resp. to PSMF ¶ 3);
(d) the presence of others/witnesses should be taken into account before conducting a strip search of a student, (CCSD Resp. to PSMF ¶ 4); and
(e) a search underneath the clothing of a student could be conducted only if officials believed there was contraband underneath the clothing, (CCSD Resp. to PSMF ¶ 5).
CCSD had no written training materials from 2000 to 2011 addressing when or how to conduct strip searches. (CCSD Resp. to PSMF ¶ 6.) CCSD's only written training document that discusses student strip searches is dated July 2012, after the search of D.H. on February 8, 2011. (CCSD Resp. to PSMF ¶ 7.)
CCSD's Rule 30(b)(6) witness, Douglas Hendrix, Chief of Human Resources and Public Information Officer for Clayton County Public School District, testified, based on his personal experience that CCSD held annual training from 2004 to 2007 for principal and assistant principals where it " was always mentioned" that no strip searches of students were permitted. (Hendrix Dep. at 26, 59-60; see also CCSD SMF ¶ 11 (stating " [f]rom at least 2000 to 2007, CCSD has provided training on searches and other topics through its student services division" ).) CCSD kept no records regarding its employees' attendance at trainings. (CCSD Resp. to PSMF ¶ 8.) Hendrix testified that he thinks the training has not changed, but acknowledged that he had no information or knowledge of the training as Defendant's 30(b)(6) designee for the period after 2007. ( Id.) In his official capacity as CCSD representative, Hendrix testified that the only specific knowledge he had that each of the school district's principals and assistant principals received training about strip searches would be from the written training documents created by the school district's counsel. (Hendrix Dep. at 60-62.) CCSD's written training materials from 2010 do not include any references to strip searches. (Hendrix Dep. at 63-64.)
McDowell testified that he did not receive any training from CCSD regarding his authority to search students or the limits on conducting strip searches. (McDowell Dep. at 41, 48.) McDowell was never trained or informed by anyone at CCSD as to what " applicable authority" governed the scope of the school district's search policy and had no information upon which to assess what was meant by the policy's reference to " applicable authority." (McDowell Dep. at 62.) McDowell understood " however . . . that the school administrators had the authority to search the person of a student." ( Id. at 48.) McDowell testified that " the person of a student" to him meant their clothing, pockets, book bags, and " anything that's on the physical person of the student," including their underwear or socks. (McDowell Dep. at 49-50.) Although McDowell was aware of the policy in the student handbook, he had not been told by anyone at CCSD to review the policy, and he had not reviewed it " for the specificity of it" until after he had conducted the February 8, 2011 searches. (McDowell Dep. at 57-58.) McDowell testified that he had no understanding of Clayton County policy with regard to the ability of administrators to search students at the time he worked there. (McDowell Dep. at 42.) He testified that his basis for believing that he had the authority to search students came from his interaction and prior work with principals at other schools that " administrators could initiate [a] search of a student if there is a reason to believe that the student needed to be searched. And Clayton County policy was not very specific on that."  (McDowell Dep. at 42.) Specifically, McDowell testified that he learned from his former principal at another Clayton County school that if an administrator had reason to believe that a student had drugs or a weapon, that the student could be searched by the administration. ( Id. at 43-47.) During the February 8, 2011 searches, McDowell relied on Deputy Redding's position as the SRO to know the parameters of a lawful search better than his own knowledge. (McDowell Dep. at 132-133.) According to McDowell, Deputy Redding's advice influenced McDowell's decision to require D.V. and D.H. to remove their pants during the search for marijuana. (McDowell Dep. at 132-133.) Deputy Redding, however, denies giving McDowell any directions or participating directly during the searches. (Redding Dep. at 108, 135, 137, 139-140.)
McDowell was present during numerous searches of students suspected of possessing drugs conducted by the principals at Lovejoy High School, another CCSD school at which McDowell was previously employed as an assistant principal. (McDowell Dep. at 44-45.) These incidents involved book bag searches, students being asked to turn their pants pockets inside out, and searches of shorts worn under the students' pants. (McDowell Dep. at 71-76.) McDowell testified that he participated in and observed searches where students were asked to pull out the pockets of shorts worn under their pants. (McDowell Dep. at 72-74.) McDowell further testified that it was possible that he asked students to pull down their pants in order to search the pockets of shorts worn under their pants, and that to ensure that nothing was hidden in those pockets it
would be necessary to have the students take their pants down to access the pockets of their shorts. (McDowell Dep. at 75.)
Ratcliff testified that administrators at EWA conducted several searches of students and their belongings for suspicion of drugs. (Ratcliff Dep. at 23-36.) Ratcliff testified that during student searches, she has asked students to turn their pockets inside out, and searched book bags and desks. ( Id. at 21, 27, 35.) However, the February 8, 2011 search of T.D. was the first instance ...