Local News

Clinton third-grader strip-searched after being accused of stealing

Posted June 18, 2012
Updated June 19, 2012

— 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.

Teresa Holmes statement

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 accused him of taking $20.

Justin told his mother that a girl dropped the money in the cafeteria and that he picked it up and gave it back to her, Cox says.

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

The assistant principal, Teresa Holmes, says in a statement that several other students, as well as two teachers, told her that the money was missing and that they had seen Justin dive under the lunchroom table for it.

Holmes, a 28-year educator, says she told Justin that, if he had the money, he should return it to the girl or that she would have to search him.

"Justin said that he did not have the money and to ‘search me,’" Holmes said, adding that the boy, over the course of the school year, had lied many times.

When she did not find the money on Justin, she said, she hugged him, apologized and talked to him about the importance of having a good reputation.

The money was "miraculously" found on the floor, Holmes said, adding that a teacher said it was not there before the search.

"Any staff member who has ever worked with me knows that I care for my students and that even when I have to discipline them, I love them," she said.

Cox says she is not only upset about her son being searched but also 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.

"I was furious," she said.

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 says 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."


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  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 22, 2012

    Sumo - "This kid clearly had a reputation for being a liar - that doesn't speak well of the parents."

    Where'd you dream up that information?

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 22, 2012

    Sumo - "...but is that a reason to force someone to resign?"

    The AP was retiring soon anyway.

  • Sumo Vita Jun 21, 2012

    Yes, the AP was overzealous and likely overstepped her authority - but is that a reason to force someone to resign? Yes, it is - if there's a lawsuit involved, the school system wants to show that it did everything to "protect" the students. Meanwhile it's difficult to gauge how many of these faux outrage lawsuits are truly justified, as opposed simply a way for greedy parents to make a quick buck by suing everyone and everything in sight should anyone dare interfere with their little spoiled brats. I've seen this absurdity played out in other local schools systems where good, talented educators lose their jobs and careers for the smallest slip-ups because of all the dollar signs shining in the eyes of the wretches that pass for parents. I don't know the people involved, so I won't comment any further on this specific case - but geez louise, give me a break!

  • Sumo Vita Jun 21, 2012

    "The school has really made a big deal out of something that could have been handled in a way to not be newsworthy."

    The school system has no motivation to make this newsworthy. The parents do - clearly a law$uit beckons.

  • Sumo Vita Jun 21, 2012

    The AP had submitted her resignation a week BEFORE this incident. Don't make things up.

    All you parents busy raising your brats to be serial killers - or at least, cash cows - need to start by good PARENTING first. This kid clearly had a reputation for being a liar - that doesn't speak well of the parents.

  • beepersgrl Jun 20, 2012

    The AP is definatley not 28 yrs old.

  • beepersgrl Jun 20, 2012

    who? the AP is 28
    That is my understanding, This little fellow was just trying to help someone he didn't even know.His family are close family friends.Bottom line they don't want someone else's child to have to be subjected to this treatment.

  • soyousay Jun 20, 2012


    who? the AP is 28

  • beepersgrl Jun 20, 2012


  • soyousay Jun 20, 2012

    Also found out this AP went to her job and was very upset because it was in the newspaper..

    If true, this AP is beyond out of line and should be terminated, right now, no second chances etc.......