Student's wrongful detainment claim brings first step toward lawsuit against South Tippah, Ripley

By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel

RIPLEY – The first step on the path to a federal lawsuit was taken this week after a Ripley High School student served the South Tippah School District and the City of Ripley with a notice of claim contending both parties committed numerous federal and state law violations.

A lawsuit presents one side of a legal case. District Superintendent Frank Campbell and Ripley Mayor Kerry Hill both declined comment this week.

This action was taken after the school district and the city ignored attempts to remedy this situation, said Joseph R. Murray, II, the Ripley attorney representing the student, whom the attorney declined to identify at this time.

He said the Ripley High School student was wrongfully detained by high school officials and Ripley police. He termed false a claim that the student had violated property belonging to the Parks and Recreation Department.

Murray said that although there was no evidence supporting the charge, the student was interrogated for about an hour without a parent, handcuffed, and brought to the police department, Murray said.

“The city and school should have known better,” Murray said. To say the school, with the police right at their side, has the right to detain and question a child, without a parent, for an incident that occurred after school hours and off school property sets a dangerous precedent. It undermines the Fourth Amendment, and more importantly, undermines the rights of parents to protect their child.

“The school district and the city must understand that they cannot suspend the constitutional rights of students at their own discretion,” Murray concluded.

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