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Assistant Principal Strip-Searches Third Grader Over Missing $20

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(credit: ADAM JAN/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: ADAM JAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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CLINTON, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) — A North Carolina elementary school has come under fire for strip-searching a student accused of stealing money.

According to multiple reports, 10-year-old Justin Roberts was ordered to take off his clothes on June 1 after being accused of stealing $20 from a classmate at Union Elementary School in Clinton.

Clarinda Cox, Justin’s mother, told WRAL-TV that she was “furious” that the school searched her son without her consent.

“If I felt he needed to be searched, I would have brought him into the bathroom,” Cox told WRAL. “You could have had a witness in the bathroom with me. I would have searched my son.”

Assistant principal Teresa Holmes told the station that she searched the third-grade boy because he said “search me.” After removing his clothes, except for his t-shirt and boxers, and not finding the money, she apologized immediately to him.

“I sat in front of him telling him that I was sorry that I had to search him,” Holmes said in a statement to WRAL. “I again explained that as a school administrator, I had the authority to search him because two teachers thought he had the money as well as seven or eight students.”

After the boy was strip-searched, a teacher came into the office to say the money was found.

Susan Warren, Sampson County Schools spokeswoman, says Holmes was within her legal rights to search the child.

“The assistant principal was in her legal rights to do what she did,” Warren told the Fayetteville Observer. “However, it was probably a little overzealous in an attempt to find the money.”

Holmes has not been disciplined for her actions.

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