‘Killian Nine’ student loses in appeals court

FLORIDA — A federal appellate court in March affirmed a district court’s ruling that a student at Killian High School in suburban Miami did not have her constitutional rights violated when she was arrested and strip searched for distributing an underground pamphlet at the school.

The Miami-Dade County School District had Liliana Cuesta and eight other Killian students arrested in February 1998 for publishing threatening comments in their underground publication titled First Amendment. The 20-page anonymous pamphlet included a drawing of principal Timothy Dawson with a dart through his head and a column that mused about the consequences of shooting him.

Cuesta was strip searched in accordance with Dade County corrections intake policy. She was charged with hate crimes for her role in distributing the pamphlet, but those charges were eventually dropped.

The American Civil Liberties Union is currently deciding whether to ask the entire panel to rehear the case or to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Case: Cuesta v. School Bd. of Miami-Dade Co., 285 F.3d 962 (11th Cir. 2002)