The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 7, 2012

Lawsuit: Strip search led to student’s suicide

By Monica Pryts
Allied News Staff Writer

SLIPPERY ROCK — The parents of a Slippery Rock High School student who committed suicide in 2011 are suing school officials for what they claim was an illegal strip search of their daughter that left her so distraught she took her own life.

Shane A. and Sandy D. Maxwell of Portersville, parents of Tiffani Z. Maxwell, 16, filed the federal lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.

The defendants named in the case are: Slippery Rock Area School District; Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Nogay; Kristie Shulsky, high school principal; John Daniel Szolek, assistant high school principal; and Joan Timko, high school nurse.

The lawsuit alleges Tiffani was wrongly strip-searched by school staff after another student reported seeing her with drugs on the school bus on Jan. 14.

No drugs were found and Mrs. Maxwell said she drove her daughter to school that day, according to the lawsuit. Tiffani was suspended over the drug allegations and her parents believe she shot herself the next day because she feared she’d be held back a year.

“Tiffani was so distraught ... she obtained a gun in her home, shot herself at the base of the skull and died instantly,” according to the lawsuit.

Mrs. Maxwell was home at the time and found her daughter’s body.

Nogay issued a statement on behalf of the district, saying they hadn’t seen the lawsuit but were “confident that the allegations and claims lack any basis in fact or law.”

The Maxwells did not return a message seeking further comment.