Justin Cox strip searched at Union Elementary School over $20

6:54 PM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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By Bryan Mims

Clinton, NC (WRAL/CNN) - A North Carolina mother is upset with administrators at her son's school.

Her third grader was strip-searched when other students accused him of taking a classmate's money

"I was furious," said Clarinda Cox.

Clarinda came home from work to find her 10-year-old son Justin waiting in the driveway. He was upset. Something happened in school that day.

"Why didn't they call me," she said.

She says no one from Union Elementary School ever called her to tell her about the strip search.

"If I felt he needed to be searched, I would have brought him into the bathroom, you could have had a witness in the bathroom with me," said Clarinda. "I would have searched my son."

It was June 1, 2012. Her third grade son says a girl had dropped money in the cafeteria. He picked it up and gave it back to her.

But she later said someone had stolen her $20.

A spokeswoman for Sampson County Schools says several students accused Justin of taking the money.

Clarinda says Assistant Principal Theresa Holmes confronted her son about it.

"She told me to take my shoes off step-by-step. She didn't ask me if she could. She told me she says now I have to strip search you," said Justin.

He had to take off everything but his undershirt and boxer shorts.

"And then she came up to him and rubbed her fingers around inside of his underwear. Now if that isn't excessively intrusive, I don't know what is," said Clarinda.

School district officials were out of town and not available to go on camera. But spokeswoman Susan Warren said by phone a male janitor was brought in as a witness.

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.

She never found the $20 on Justin, who says she hugged him afterward and told him she was sorry.

Clarinda says she understands strip searches in certain scenarios.

She said, "Drugs, weapons, but $20?"


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