NC mom says 10-year-old daughter was ‘unreasonably’ searched at school

North Carolina news

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has promised to train staffers at a local school after school officials say a student was unreasonably searched.

Gabriella Destouche, 10, a fifth-grader at Winterfield Elementary School, says she was in the middle of a practice test last week, when a Behavior Modification Technician (BMT) pulled her into the hallway and searched her backpack.

“She said ‘dump all your stuff out on the floor.’ She made me go into my pockets,” said Gabriella.

“I’ve seen the video. It shows my child dumping her stuff in the hallway and emptying her pockets,” said Victoria Destouche, referring to surveillance video from the school.

According to an investigative report filed by the school’s principal and given to FOX 46, a teacher told the BMT she suspected Gabriella had taken her keys.

“It made me upset. And I know how it made her feel,” said Victoria.

The teacher told the staffer that the fifth-grader, “she was going to be a teacher because now she had ‘teachery’ things and could do teacher things now.”

That’s when the BMT pulled Gabriella into the hallway to search her.

“I know for a fact that this is illegal and wrong. My child is 10 years old. She’s not supposed to be searched for keys,” said Victoria.

According to the handbook for parents and students in North Carolina Public Schools, “school officials and school resources officers may only search a student or a student’s belonging if they have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ to believe that the student has something illegal or something that is not allowed at school.’

The school’s principal, in the investigative report, concluded that keys don’t qualify as illegal items. She also said the BMT wasn’t authorized to conduct a search, nor should there have been any suspicion that Gabriella took the keys in the first place, according to the report.

“Everybody just tells me they’re sorry,” Victoria said.

CMS has promised to train staffers at Winterfield on state policies regarding searching students.

“But no one is giving me an explanation on why my child was searched.”

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