Six Months After Alleged Strip Searches, Activists Still Await Answers From Binghamton Schools

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Updated: 6/19/19 – 11:25 A.M.

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – Before the last Board of Education meeting of the school year, Binghamton activists protested outside the city’s school district building. 

About thirty people gathered Tuesday evening to deliver an online petition and to call on the school board to address demands stemming from the alleged strip searches.  The incident, which took place earlier this year, involved four twelve-year-old black and Latina* at East Middle School.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Media

Salko Valerio speaking at a rally outside the Binghamton City School District building. June 18, 2019 (Celia Clarke/WSKG)

Salko Valerio, the mother of a ten year old who attends a Binghamton school, spoke to the crowd.

“They should have a conversation about it,” she said, “because I feel like they really aren’t being transparent with the parents in the community about what’s going on.

Petitions delivered to the Board demand better training of staff, so similar incidents are avoided in the future.

The girls’ parents filed a civil suit against the school district. Broome District Attorney Steve Cornwell decided not to file any criminal charges.**

Micah Barreiro, president of the local NAACP chapter, is critical of how the school board managed the incident.

“There’s just been no response,” he said. “So, I would like conversation. Whether you agree with it or don’t agree with it from their end. Conversation.

Even though the district’s investigation found no wrong doing, Barreiro said school officials have not addressed community concerns over the incident. He called on the school district to convene a community-wide discussion on their concerns.

Before the protest, the district held a community workshop to discuss the response to an online survey about school climate and culture. The event was opened to the public and attended by the superintendent and school board members. Several break out groups discussed specific topics. The strip searches were not discussed and school officials did not respond to WSKG’s request for comment.***

*Edited to more accurately describe the young girls’ ethnicities.

**Corrects an earlier version of the story that incorrectly stated the parents filed a lawsuit after the Broome District Attorney didn’t charge anyone. The parents civil suit was already filed before the DA made his decision.

***Information added for more context on Binghamton District’s response to alleged strip search incident