Students speak out, parents file complaints against Worth Co. Sheriff's office
SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) - Some parents and students are taking action against the Worth County Sheriff's office.
On Friday, the Sheriff's Office did a random drug search at the high school, patting down every student.
Since then, many parents have spoke up about what they are calling a controversial search.
At least 30 have filed civil complaints against the Worth County Sheriff's office for violating their children's rights at the Sylvester Police Department.
"Their rights were violated," said father of three Jerry Heflin. "They shouldn't have been searched in my book."
Heflin has three daughters at Worth County High School. He said officials at the Worth County Sheriff's office need to be punished for their actions.
"It was inappropriately done. I think they need to learn from their mistakes," said Heflin.
His oldest, a senior, said Friday's search put a dent in their learning.
"We were separated boys from girls, and then we were made to put our hands on the wall and we were searched," said senior Sarah Kidd.
The Sheriff's Office put the school on lock down for several hours, patting down every student. They did not find any drugs.
"This was the first time anything like this had ever happened to me,"said Kidd.
Her sister, a sophomore, said she wasn't as aggressively pat down. However, she said it frightened her.
"It startled me," Steffany Kidd said. "I was like what? What is going on?"
Both sisters said they were never told what was going on or why the deputies needed to check every student.
Heflin has not officially filed a complaint. However, Sylvester police said several dozen other parents have filed complaints.
"I think this is where we need to voice our opinion, the parents of all the school students that are in Worth County High," said Heflin.
Folks at the Sylvester police department said they will only be processing the complaints. The complaints will be given to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to investigate.
WALB reached out to the GBI and has not heard back.
The Georgia Board of Education has also received several complaints from parents.
From the state level, representatives at the Board of Education said they don't have the authority to intervene.
Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby put out a statement late this afternoon.
He said his deputies were told to do a 'basic and non intrusive pat down' on every student.
He said one deputy was more intrusive than instructed.
Hobby said he has taken corrective action and the behavior and it won't happen again.
You can view the full statement below.
The Sylvester Police Department was not involved with the search on Friday.
Interim Chief Gary Price said his department did their own search March 17th after he was asked by the principal to do so.
The Albany Dougherty Drug Unit assisted with their K-9 teams.
Only drug paraphernalia was found.
One student was arrested for alcohol possession.
Folks at the Sylvester Police Department believe some students may be using marijuana and other drugs before school, but they aren't necessarily bringing them on campus.
"There have been some instances here and there where students have been caught and found to be in possession of marijuana and small prescription drugs, but those cases are sporadic. They aren't on a regular basis, said Price.
Price said no students received a pat down on the 17th.
He said they would only do so if they had enough evidence to think a student had drugs on them.
He said protocol is to speak to the student first about what the situation is.
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