Principal Allegedly Stole $900 From Student with Mental Disabilities

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A Florida elementary school principal was arrested after allegedly stealing $900 from a student with mental disabilities, according to police.

On Oct. 22, an unidentified 9-year-old student brought $2,100 to his classroom from home, according to a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office police report obtained by PEOPLE. Staff and administrators counted the money and placed it in the desk of principal Edward John Abernathy, 50, for safe-keeping.

The following day, Abernathy allegedly told his staff “he would take care of the situation,” according to the report.

Three days later, the student’s parents realized their child had taken the money to school and the boy’s mother went to Abernathy’s office to get it back. On the way back to her car, she realized $900 was missing, the report states.

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After staff and administrators confirmed the discrepancy, the mother filed a police report. The following day, law enforcement interviewed Abernathy, who allegedly changed his story about the money several times.

At one point, the police report alleges, Abernathy said he moved the money from his desk to a shelf and suggested a student might have stolen it from there. But police said the shelf, which was about six feet high, would be difficult for an elementary school student to reach.

Abernathy agreed with police and said would be “a bit of a reach,” the report alleges.

He was arrested Thursday and charged with one count of grand theft of less than $5,000. He posted bail later that evening.

The school district’s superintendent told the Tampa Bay Times that Abernathy would be placed on “paid administrative leave” while the incident is investigated.

It was unclear whether Abernathy has obtained an attorney or entered a plea.

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