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Parents attend meeting with Oconto Co. District Attorney regarding Suring High School student search

Posted at 10:22 PM, Feb 22, 2022

SURING, Wis. (NBC 26) — On Monday, the Oconto County District Attorney reopened the investigation into an incident involving the searching of students at Suring High School.

D.A. Edward Burke previously announced he would not be filing charges, but reversed course.

"Even if the district attorney's office still doesn't press charges or decides not to continue, we're still not gonna stop," Suring parent Raelene Helminger said. "As a community, we have come together. We have grown."

The district attorney reports the superintendent and a school nurse asked six female students to disrobe down to their undergarments while looking for vaping cartridges.

On Tuesday, impacted parents like Helminger, whose daughter was searched, attended an hour-long online meeting with the D.A.

"I asked him why he declined to press charges," she said. "He just said that he believed that he couldn't prove it beyond reasonable doubt from a prosecutor's point of view."

Helminger says the district attorney told families he wanted to be transparent. She's one of a number of Suring parents who has hired Madison-based civil rights lawyer Jeff Scott Olson.

"We had talked back and forth and got everybody else in touch and had a meeting and that's where we're at now," Helminger said.

Olson says there's no lawsuit against the school district yet, and he's waiting to receive police records.

"It could be that there's some bombshell in there of which I'm not aware," he said. "But I don't expect to find a smoking gun as it were that justifies these intrusive searches. I don't expect to find one."

Olson says he's representing several Suring families. NBC 26 reached out to the superintendent and board president, but did not hear back.

"I think they were doing this to send a message to these girls," Olson said. "And I think it was a message that is patently unlawful under the Fourth Amendment."

Helminger says she has an in-person meeting with the district attorney on March 2.

"I am hoping that something will come further of this," she said. "And it's just a matter of time to see what happens."

On Tuesday, Burke told NBC 26 he wanted to speak with parents before moving forward with the case. The Oconto County Sheriff's Office said it has requested a meeting with the district attorney’s office to obtain further information on the request to reopen an investigation.

We will continue following this story on our newscasts as well as our website.