Higley High parents upset over search - East Valley Tribune: News

Higley High parents upset over search

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Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 8:29 pm | Updated: 9:19 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Parents of a Higley High School junior say their son was inappropriately searched last week by a female assistant principal. They are seeking answers and an apology, both of which they're still waiting for a week after the incident.

Associate Superintendent Denise Birdwell said that appropriate procedures were used, and the master key they were searching for has since been recovered.

Seventeen-year-old Raymond Armenta Jr. was called into the office last Tuesday after district officials thought he knew something about a master key being passed around by students on campus.

Armenta said he was overheard recalling a story about another student a couple of years ago who'd stolen a master key and was selling copies of it.

Armenta, who says he knows nothing about the key, was then asked to take off his shoes and socks, empty his pockets and spread his legs. He was then patted down by Assistant Principal Nancy Diab, including searching between his legs, while school officials and the school's resource officer were in the room.

She also searched Armenta's backpack and looked through his cell phone text messages.

Armenta called his parents after school to tell them what happened. His parents, Raymond Armenta Sr. and Colleen Armenta, say they immediately drove to the school to find out what happened. They talked with Diab, they said, but weren't happy with her response.

"From the minute we walked in to the minute we walked out, she wasn't taking us seriously," said Colleen Armenta. "We think they're just trying to sweep this under the rug."

The parents also sent e-mails to several district officials asking for an explanation, including Superintendent Joyce Lutrey, Higley High Principal Robert Mileham and Birdwell.

The Armentas say they got a call from Lutrey's assistant, but no other response.

They also don't believe their son should have been searched, especially by a woman.

"She shouldn't have patted him down," said Raymond Armenta Sr. "If there was a male teacher patting down a female student, things would be different."

Birdwell said two men were present during the search, including the police officer and another district official.

She also said the district attempts to contact parents, and that any concerns are investigated.

"If by chance we have done something we shouldn't have, we'll certainly speak to that parent," Birdwell said. "I have received a complaint from the parent (Armenta), and yes, we will investigate."

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