Teachers searching for cell phone strip-search students

A Canadian school board admits that staff at at high school went too far in ordering 28 students to remove their clothes, as one was suspected of having a cell phone in a math exam.

The school where the search took place.
Cap-Jeunesse High School Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

One of the less likely things a teacher might tell a student told during a math exam is: "Take off your bra. Then raise your arms."

Yet this allegedly was said to a 10th-grade student at Cap-Jeunesse High School in Saint-Jerome, Canada.

The rules of the math exam were that cell phones were supposed to be placed on the teacher's desk to avoid cheating. Or, perhaps, to prevent someone texting Madelaine to ask how last night's ice cream with Roger had gone.

Yet, as Canada's QMI Agency reports, the count seemed to be one cell phone short.

The 15- and 16-year-olds were then allegedly marched one by one into a room and ordered to strip.

One girl even claimed she had been tapped on the back. Might the teachers have thought she'd recently swallowed a cell phone?

The school board seems not to dispute the essence of the story. School board spokeswoman Nadyne Brochu called the actions of the staff "disproportionate."

Next math exam question: "A rectangle is 14 meters high and 2 centimeters wide. Is this room disproportionate when compared to other rectangles you have seen?"

Brochu further told QMI: "In the heat of the action, the decision seemed the best. Once officials heard what had happened, they immediately contacted the students' parents to explain the situation."

Some might wonder whether the heat of the parents' reactions might have enjoyed perfect proportions.

They might wonder that if this decision had seemed to be the best, what other decisions had been considered. Hanging the students upside down from a top floor window till a cell phone fell out? Holding their heads beneath a running tap, until someone confessed?

The school, which is about 40 miles north of Montreal, said that it is conducting an investigation but would not confirm that any of the teachers would be disciplined.

What is unclear thus far is whether any cell phones were found in this strip search. If not, could it be that this was a case of a math teacher who couldn't count?

It seemed for a while as if American high schools had the exclusive preserve on peculiar punishments -- the case of Kiera Wilmot, expelled and charged with a felony (later dropped) for putting toilet cleaner and foil in a water bottle, for example.

This Canadian school will surely struggle to explain its slightly authoritarian behavior.

Still, in this case, the students are to be allowed to retake the test.

Wouldn't it be remarkable if they all did very well?