Critics say court left standard too vague on strip search

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Civil liberties groups and children's advocates are cheering today's Supreme Court decision that said Arizona school officials violated a teenager's rights by strip-searching her.

But there are also suggestions that the court may have created further problems for school systems by failing to make clear exactly when school administrators can strip search students and when they can't. The 8-1 ruling found that officials at Safford Middle School violated the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches with their treatment of 13-year-old Savana Redding during a search for prescription-strength ibuprofen.

The justices said educators can't force children to remove their clothing unless student safety is at risk. The girl's lawyer says the decision tells school officials that they can strip-search students "only in the most extraordinary situations.'' But a lawyer for the school district says the ruling limits the ability of school officials to protect students from drugs and weapons.