Philly suit settled over alleged inappropriate school pat-down

Posted: July 28, 2012

The Philadelphia School District has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that a male police officer at Harding Middle School inappropriately touched a 13-year-old girl's chest during a weapons pat-down, according to a copy of the settlement agreement obtained by The Inquirer.

A district spokesman confirmed that the case was settled but would not comment on the terms.

According to the suit, filed by the girl's father last fall, about 100 students were ushered into the auditorium as the school day began. Row by row, students and their belongings were searched by metal detector and by hand.

The girl said the officer searched her body with the detector wand, which revealed no evidence of a weapon. He then "physically patted down the plaintiff ... placed his hand down plaintiff's shirt and felt around her chest area."

The lawsuit came as the Philadelphia school police force was under fire for inadequate training and lax hiring and screening practices for officers, some of whom also had arrest records and job-related discipline problems, an Inquirer investigation found.

According to the plaintiff's attorney, Michael Pileggi, the district did not admit any wrongdoing or agree to reform its security practices.

Also named in the suit were Leroy Nunery II, acting superintendent at the time of the search; Myron Patterson, who leads the school police; Michael Calderone, principal at the school in the city's Frankford section; and nine unnamed police officers.

The name of the girl, who is now 14, is being withheld under The Inquirer's policy of not identifying minors in sex cases. After attorney fees, the plaintiff will receive $18,349 in a trust fund that cannot be accessed until she turns 18.


Contact Jessica Parks

at 215-854-2771 or jparks@philly.com.

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