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Search of student allegedly asked to pull down pants prompts protests

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Members of a northern Manitoba community are demanding a school staff member step down after a student was allegedly asked to pull their pants down during a search for a vaping product.

The group of community members was protesting in front of Gillam School Friday for the second day in a row. The group of more than two dozen people marched outside the school, singing and drumming with signs reading 'Every Child Matters.'

RCMP told CTV News officers were at the rally Friday to preserve the peace and maintain public safety.

The outcry stems from an incident that happened last week involving a 12-year-old student.

The girl's mother told CTV News her daughter and two other girls were confronted by a school staff member who accused them of vaping in the bathroom.

They were taken to an office, and after emptying their pockets with no devices being found, two of the girls were told they could leave.

The woman told CTV News the staff member suspected her daughter was hiding a vape in her pants, so another staff member was brought in to supervise an additional search.

According to the girl's mother, her daughter was instructed to lower her pants as part of the search. While she initially refused, she did eventually pull her pants down to her mid-thighs.

She says nothing was found.

CTV News has reached out to Frontier School Division for comment and has not heard back.

In a letter to parents obtained by CTV News, the division said it has investigated.

"After meeting with everyone involved in the matter, (Frontier School Division) is confident the search was completed safely and in keeping with Manitoba Education and the Division's policies," the letter reads.

Cpl. Julie Courchaine with the Manitoba RCMP confirmed officers did investigate the matter, however no charges are being considered as a result.

The mother of the girl along with several other community members protesting at the school say they want the staff member who initiated the search to be removed from their position. The mother says she won't be sending her child to that school until they are.

The division said in its letter that it respects the rights of individuals to protest, and said it looks forward to ongoing meetings with the family to resolve the issue. 

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