Remember those accusations awhile back that some teen-age girls in Aiken County public schools had to submit to genital examinations by a "health care worker"? Well, it also happened three years ago in East Stroudsburg, Pa.
Many of the 59 Pennsylvania eighth graders didn't know they were going to be examined, nor why -- yet all were forced to comply. This was a traumatizing experience for the girls, and the parents were rightly furious.
As in the Aiken incident, some Pennsylvania authorities felt they had to do the procedures to comply with the Clinton-Gore administration's Goals 2000 legislation (although the language leaves ample room for interpretation).
Parents of eight East Stroudsburg girls filed suit, and a federal court has finally ruled that both the school system and the school-hired pediatrician who did the exams violated the girls' civil rights.
A jury determined that neither the girls nor their parents had given consent to the exams and U.S. District Judge Richard Caputo ruled they violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches.
The school system claimed it sent parental consent slips home with the students, but the plaintiffs successfully argued that silence cannot be construed as consent. (Also, any parent can testify how unreliable an 11-year-old can be when it comes to remembering to bring a paper home from school.)
How has it come to be that some school systems are interpreting Goals 2000 language to mean the most intimate health procedures should be undertaken without parental consent? This is raw tyranny -- certainly not what America is supposed to be about.
Orlando Sentinel columnist Kathleen Parker provides a cogent analysis:
"Jurors reconvened ... and awarded $7,500 to each of the eight girls. Though both sides considered the verdict conservative, let's hope it is sufficient to keep educators mindful that parents, not bureaucrats, are best suited to protect their children."