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Clinton Third-Grader Strip-Searched After Being Accused Of Stealing

(WRAL)  The mother of a Clinton third-grader says a school administrator went too far when she strip-searched her child after accusations that he stole from another student.

Clarinda Cox says her 10-year-old son, Justin, a student at Union Elementary School, was ordered to take off everything but his T-shirt and boxer shorts on June 1 after a girl and several other students accused him of taking $20.

Justin told his mother that a girl dropped the money and that he picked it up and gave it back to her, she said.

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

The female assistant principal, Teresa Holmes, did not find the money, Cox said, and hugged Justin and apologized to him afterward. Holmes said the money was found underneath the lunchroom table.

“I was furious,” Cox said Monday, not only about the search but that no one notified her about it.

She said she found out about it from Justin when he came home from school that day upset.

Sampson County Schools spokeswoman Susan Warren says Cox should have been informed about the search but that Holmes did nothing wrong and that a male janitor was present for the search.

“The assistant principal was within her legal authority, her legal right, to do the search,” Warren said. “She may have been overzealous in her actions.”

Cox said that, with or without an apology, her son was violated.

“She came up to him and rubbed her fingers around inside of his underwear,” Cox said. “If that isn’t excessively intrusive, I don’t know what is.”