Teacher’s lawsuit alleges illegal strip search

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A Bayside High School teacher has filed a lawsuit claiming she was illegally strip searched after a legal guardian claimed she gave a student scabies.

Donika Anderson-Wagner filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court in Norfolk. According to the lawsuit, the guardian of the student told school officials the student was believed to have scabies and contracted them from Anderson-Wagner.

The following email was sent to Dr. Bermina Nickerson, an assistant principal at Bayside at noon Dec. 14, 2012 by Bonnie McGhee:

[Redacted]‘s legal guardian has alerted me that [redacted] is believed to have scabies and that they believe she got them from Ms. Anderson-Wagner. Anderson-Wagner has spoken with the child and stated that she has a similar rash and itch. [Redacted] has been to the doctor and has been refered (sic) to CHKD for what the doctor has 99% confirmed as scabies. [Redacted] has also mentioned that there are other students in her class that are scratching, and the guardian is concerned of a possible outbreak. 

McGhee is listed as an attendance manager at Bayside. Nickerson sent the email to the principal, Dr. James Miller, who instructed Nickerson to call Mary Shaw and ask for advice. Shaw is Coordinator of Health Services/School Nurses for Virginia Beach Public Schools.

According to the lawsuit, Miller also spoke to Shaw, and was instructed to interrupt Anderson-Wagner’s class.

Document: Lawsuit filed by teacher

“Miller evidently relayed this information in Nickerson, who did in fact interrupt Ms. Anderson’s class,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit says Anderson-Miller was escorted to the nurse at the school that particular day, Alpanna Dave, and waited outside the door as Dave “conducted a search and visual inspection of plaintiff’s body, involving – with Nurse Dave’s assistance – the removal of Ms. Anderson’s clothes, down to her undergarments.” dave note lawsuit

The entire incident, beginning at the sending of the original email, lasted about 45 minutes. The search revealed nothing, which was also noted by Dave on a copy of the email, signed 12-14-12 at 12:45 p.m.

Anderson-Wagner then went back to her classroom to continue to teach and was very upset.

The lawsuit says Anderson-Wagner’s 4th and 14th Amendment rights were violated in the search.

“Because a parent or guardian of the student made an unsupported allegation, with no rational connection to the plaintiff, the defendants responded with an intrusive search,” the lawsuit continues. “The search was unjustified at its inception, and the nature of the search as conducted – removing Ms. Anderson’s clothes to inspect her body for mites – was not reasonable to the perceived or alleged problem in its scope, and unsupported by any objective facts.”

Additionally, attorneys say Anderson-Wagner was also the victim of false imprisonment (count two) and assault and battery (count three).

Miller, Nickerson, Dave and Shaw as well as John Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 (both listed as an employee or agent of the Virginia Beach School Board) are named as defendants on the lawsuit. The School Board of the City of Virginia Beach is also listed as a defendant.

Anderson-Wagner is asking for damages in the amount of $622,488.78 on each count, pre-and post-judgment interest, reasonable attorney’s fees, her costs in the matter and all other relief the Court ‘deems just and proper.’

Stay with WAVY.com for more on this developing story.

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