(updated) Arguments set in Iowa ACLU’s open-records lawsuit against Atlantic School District


September 20th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

(updated 9:55-a.m. Sept. 20th)

A recent settlement between the Atlantic Community School District and the parents of several girls who claimed to have been strip-searched in August 2009 over the matter of missing money, has not ended the district’s legal battles. An open-records case filed over the incident at the Atlantic High School has reached the Iowa Court of Appeals, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) saying the case will be argued in court, this Thursday.

The ACLU has been trying to find out what discipline, if any, was imposed on former Assistant High School Principle Paul Croghan, and Guidance Counselor Heather Turpin. The ACLU lost its bid in district court to uncover that information, but later appealed. In August 2009, several girls were strip-searched in a locker room at the school after a classmate reported the theft of $100 from her purse. No money was found. Atlantic School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein  says the district’s case is being handled by its attorney, Brett Nietzche.  Amstein says Nietzche will argue on behalf of the district, that information regarding disciplinary action against school personnel is confidential, and should not have to be disclosed.

The district recently settled a lawsuit filed by families of three of the girls. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Amstein – who was not with the Atlantic Community School District when the incident took place – says with that portion of the legal matter concluded, they’re looking to move on to other issues.