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Oconto Co. Sheriff's Office releases findings from investigation into Suring School student searches

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Posted at 4:51 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 00:42:16-05

SURING, Wis. (NBC 26) — The Oconto County Sheriff's Office released its findings after an investigation looking into the searching of students at Suring High School.

The documents were made public on Wednesday afternoon less than a week after the Oconto Co. District Attorney reopened the investigation. D.A. Edward Burke announced previously he would not be filing charges.

The district attorney reports the superintendent and a school nurse asked six female students to disrobe down to their underwear while searching for vaping devices.

The documents released Wednesday include the account of two students who say their breasts were exposed in the search. The superintendent told police that wasn't true and private areas were never exposed.

Per the report, Principal Zachary Beeksma said all the girls were seen on camera leaving a bathroom when they shouldn't have been, which led to the search.

The school nurse said she had just started that job at Suring High School the day before she was asked to assist Superintendent Kelly Casper with searching students. The report says the nurse contacted her supervisor with concerns about the searches. And Casper mentioned to police that teachers' aids told her about students vaping.

According to the deputy report, after a search, a vape device fell out of the upper portion of a student's bra and fell on the floor. Casper told the student "that was 'exactly' what she was looking for."

Casper says this was the first time she had searched female students in Suring, but she had previously searched students in the Coleman School District. Casper believed she had searched more than 20 students in the past. She also provided certificates showing training she attended about school searches.

According to the report, Principal Beeksma says Suring Police Chief Kevin Schneider came into school to search a group of boys.

Impacted Suring parents say their daughters were strip-searched in mid-January. Burke says the searches that occurred are not strip searches. He cited Wisconsin law in defining what constitutes a strip search. He says what happened does not meet those standards.

Last week, NBC 26 visited the school district office multiple times, but Superintendent Casper declined to comment on the investigation. We reached out to Suring's school board president Wayne Sleeter and Casper via phone and email numerous times again, but did not hear back.