LAND O'LAKES, Fla. — Connerton Elementary School Principal Edward Abernathy, 50, was arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing hundreds of dollars from a special needs student and his family.
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According to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report, the nine-year-old Connorton student took $2,100 from home and brought it to school on Oct. 22.
When teachers realized what happened, they turned the money over to school administration. The school's assistant principal reportedly counted the money and put it in Abernathy's desk.
Abernathy reportedly returned to school the next day and told staff he'd handle returning the money.
The report states that the child's parents found out what happened on Oct. 26 and that his mother came to pick up the money that day. She noticed $900 was missing and reported it to authorities.
Abernathy was arrested after reportedly giving multiple inconsistent statements to investigators, including about whether or not he knew how much money was in his office. According to the report, he also told investigators that it was possible a student took the money from a hiding space inside speakers on top of a six-foot-tall shelf.
A spokesperson for Pasco County Schools said Abernathy has worked for the district for more than 25 years. He became principal of Connerton in 2016.
One parent of students who attend the school said she didn't know Abernathy, but that she thinks it's too early to think the worst of the situation just yet.
"I think it's his business. Before anyone keeps going on him, this is this man's life," said Amber Gordon. "This is how he feeds his family. I think that it should be taken care of before any of all this is done."
The district spokesperson said Abernathy is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The mother of the student involved in this situation said her family had no comment at this time.
We were unable to reach Abernathy for comment.