Published February 26, 2008
HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. – A class of third-grade students at a western Kentucky elementary school was searched by a group of teachers after an envelope containing $5 disappeared, a school official said.
The students at Martin Luther King Elementary in Hopkinsville were asked to remove their shoes and socks during the search.
Some parents were angered by the Feb. 15 incident, which did not turn up the missing money.
"The way they treat our students is ridiculous," said Zlatko Skuljan, the father of a 9-year-old girl in the class.
School officials say four teachers had physical contact with the 17 students, and some were patted down.
Christian County Schools spokeswoman Regan Huneycutt said the search violated the school district's policy. School employees can touch students only when the student poses a threat to another student or to themselves.
The school's principal has given written reprimands to the four teachers: Gwendolyn Parker, substitute Patricia Dawson, student teacher Cassandra Fann and kindergarten aide Chris Dudley.
The principal, Sarah Newman, declined to comment and referred questions on Tuesday to Huneycutt. Questions for the four teachers were also referred to Huneycutt. Phone numbers for Parker, Dawson, Fann and Dudley could not be located on Wednesday.
Newman was not at the school on the day of the search, and the class's regular teacher, Veronica Barbee, was absent. Dawson and Fann were in charge of the class.
School officials said the search was prompted by the disappearance of an envelope containing $5 for a school function that was on the teacher's desk.
The four teachers went through desks, backpacks and other student belongings but were still unable to find the money, Huneycutt said.
Parker asked students to take off their socks and shoes, and then the children were lined up at the front of the classroom.
That is when the physical search began, Huneycutt said. Teachers patted down students and checked their pockets.
Heather Crosslin, the parent of another student in the class, said her son has been reluctant to go to school since the search. She said she confronted Newman and Parker about the incident but she was not satisfied with their answers.
"They are sweeping this under the carpet," Crosslin said.