A Florida principal has been placed on paid administrative leave following his arrest for stealing from a student.
The incident occurred in 2018.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, a 9-year-old special needs student showed up for a typical day of school at Connerton Elementary School in Land O’Lakes. Police say it was later discovered that the student, who reportedly has a mental disability, brought $2,100 of his parents’ money with him that Monday in October. Teachers found the student with the large sum of money and took it from him. From there, the money was counted and locked in the principal’s office for safekeeping until the student’s parents could come to pick it up.
When the student’s mother came to pick up the money on October 26, Principal Edward John Abernathy allegedly handed her only $1,200. She followed up with her son’s teacher to confirm the amount they found with the student. An investigation into the matter was launched. It then came to light that Principal Abernathy, who makes over $90,000 in his annual salary, had reportedly kept the $900 difference himself.
When confronted with the difference, the principal changed his story several times, including blaming the student for the missing amount. He was arrested and charged with grand theft, then was released after posting the $2,000 bail. Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning says that the situation and details of the arrest are being reviewed before further action is taken.
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