Edward John Abernathy, the 50-year-old principal of Connerton Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, Florida, was arrested on Thursday, November 8, for allegedly stealing $900 from a student with mental disabilities.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, the unnamed student brought $2,100 of his parents’ money to school on Monday, October 22.
After Connerton Elementary School teachers realized that the young boy had the money, they confiscated it, counted it, and locked it in Abernathy’s office for safe keeping.
When the boy’s mother retrieved the money on Friday, October 26, she realized that she only received $2100 from Abernathy and contacted her son’s teacher, thinking that there had maybe been a mix-up.
Once the boy’s mother realized there had not been a mistake, they So contacted the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, who then interviewed the family, Abernathy and school staff.
via Tampa Bay Times:
The deputy learned that Abernathy had counted the money himself and verified it was $2,100, and that he had later hidden it inside of a speaker on top of a shelf in his, according to his arrest report.
Abernathy changed the story he told the deputy several times, according to the Sheriff’s Office, even suggesting that the student could have taken the missing $900.
When the deputy told Abernathy that reaching the speaker — about 6 feet off the ground — would be hard for an elementary-age child, the principal said it would be “a bit of a reach,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Abernathy, whose salary as principal of Connerton Elementary School exceeds $90,000, was booked into the Land O’Lakes Detention Center on one charge of grand theft of less than $5000. He was later freed after posting $2,000 bail.
Kurt Browning, the Superintendent of the Pasco County School District, said Abernathy will be placed on paid administrative leave while the district investigates and gathers more information about Abernathy’s alleged crime.