After $20 went missing in the school cafeteria, 10-year-old Justin Cox was taken to the assistant principal’s office where he was reportedly forced to strip in front of Assistant Principal Teresa Holmes and a male janitor.
Cox had been accused of snatching the $20 when a girl accidentally dropped it in the cafeteria of Union Elementary School in Clinton, North Carolina.
WRAL TV in Raleigh, North Carolina reports that the girl accused Justin of nabbing the $20. Other witnesses, including two teachers, reportedly told Assistant Principal Holmes that Justin dove under a lunch table for the money.
Holmes states that she asked Justin to give the money back to the girl. She clarified that if he didn’t, she would have to search him. In a statement, Holmes said, “Justin said that he did not have the money and to ‘search me.’”
Justin had been in trouble at the school for lying in the past.
When the strip search did not turn up the missing money, Holmes apologized to Justin. She also explained to him the importance of having a good name. In the meantime, the money turned up on the cafeteria floor.
Justin’s mother, Clarinda Cox did not learn of the incident until Justin came home noticeably upset. She was outraged.
The mother told WRAL, “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. I would have searched my son.”
According to ABC 11 in Raleigh, Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker stated that Clarinda Cox should have indeed been notified before the strip search.
Sampson County Schools spokeswoman Susan Warren also said that Holmes was within her right to conduct the search but the mother should have been notified first.
Holmes has since retired from the school district. She was set to retire before the incident.