Florida High Schoolers Sue School District, Sheriff's Office for Missing Prom | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Florida High Schoolers Sue School District, Sheriff's Office for Missing Prom

Prom is a time to create either precious memories or future therapy fodder, depending on what clique you run with. But for a group of Jensen Beach High School girls, the event was reason to craft a bizarre lawsuit and file it in federal court.

According to the complaint, eight seniors, one underclassman, and two older male guests decided to take a party bus to the dance. When they boarded the vehicle, it was apparently littered with debris from previous customers who took the phrase "party bus" a little more literally than they did.

After pulling up in front of the Port St. Lucie Civic Center at 10 p.m on May 3, the bus was detained while a resource officer conducted a search. He unearthed an empty champagne bottle and ordered a Breathalyzer test be conducted on all of the students. The would-be attendees were then lined up in front of the bus as their peers poured into the prom, the complaint says.

Unfortunately, the resource officer had only two breath tests left, so everyone was forced to wait for an hour until he could go to the school and get more. Rather than wait, they wanted to get picked up and go home. They were apparently told they had to stay and wait until every person was tested.

Testing was concluded at 11:55. The result of each BAC reading was the same: 0.00. Finally vindicated, the girls and their friends were permitted to join their peers inside. For five minutes. The prom ended at midnight.

The suit claims that the promgoers were not only embarrassed but unlawfully detained -- and thus deserving of damages. It also says the resource officer violated the Fourth Amendment by searching the bus without probable cause.

Attorney Jeremy Harris is suing Martin County School District and its superintendent along with Jensen Beach High's principal, assistant principal, dean, and resource officer. The Martin County Sheriff's Office was also thrown in for good measure.

"When I took the case, it was pretty clear nobody was going to get rich off this," Harris says. "I don't expect this to be a case where a jury is going to award us $10 million or something crazy. I want a judge to just say this shouldn't have happened."

Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.

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