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Local News

Evers signs legislation to protect students against strip searches and sexual misconduct

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by Baylor Spears, Wisconsin Examiner
March 23, 2024

Gov. Tony Evers signed education-related legislation Friday, including a measure to tighten protections for students against strip searches and sexual misconduct.

One measure, Senate Bill 111, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 198, was introduced in reaction to a 2022 incident in which a Suring School District employee, who was searching for vaping devices, allegedly ordered six teenage girls to undress down to their underwear. Neither the students’ parents or law enforcement were informed about or present at the time of the strip search.

The law redefines the meaning of “strip search” and “private area” to include undergarments in order to protect students from any official, employee or agent of any school or school district conducting strip searches. 

Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay), who coauthored the legislation, said in a statement that “being treated with dignity and basic privacy is something that every student should expect when they enter our schools.

“The event at Suring revealed a statutory loophole that needed to be closed,” Steffen said. “This bill will protect our students from experiencing such intrusive searches in the future.”

Another measure, Senate Bill 333, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 200, seeks to better protect students by making sexual misconduct against a student by any school staff member or volunteer a Class I felony. It also adds more violations to the offenses where the state superintendent would be required to revoke a license  without a hearing, and prohibits a licensee from ever having their license reinstated by the state superintendent if they are convicted of a crime against a child that is a Class H felony or higher or a felony invasion of privacy or sexual misconduct by a school staff person or volunteer. 

Other education-related legislation Evers signed into law Friday includes:

SB 447, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 193, which allows schools and school districts to get prescriptions for glucagon — a treatment for people with known Type 1 diabetes. It also allows schools to authorize school personnel to administer the glucagon to someone at school if the student’s prescribed glucagon isn’t available and grants civil liability immunity to a school and its school personnel. AB 223, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 194, which provides civil immunity for schools and school personnel for administering an opioid antagonist in a school setting. AB 914, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 195, which allows schools to adopt a plan for management of students who have asthma to administer a short-acting bronchodilator, for the prescription for a short-acting bronchodilator to be issued in the name of a school and grants immunity from civil liability.

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