Pasco principal accused of stealing $900 from student.
LAND O’LAKES — A 50-yearold elementary school principal was arrested Thursday after deputies said he stole money brought to school by a 9-year-old with a mental disability, according to the Pasco County Sheriff ’s Office.
Connerton Elementary School principal Edward John Abernathy of Land O’Lakes is accused of stealing $900, deputies said.
On Oct. 23, the student brought $2,100 of his parents’ money to school. Once teachers found out, deputies said, they took it, counted it and locked it in the principal’s office. Abernathy returned to work the next day.
After he gave a wad of cash to the student’s mother, she noticed it was only $1,200, according to the Sheriff ’s Office, and called authorities. A deputy interviewed the family, Abernathy and staff.
The deputy learned Abernathy verified the student brought $2,100, and he later hid the money in a speaker in his office, according to his arrest report.
Abernathy changed his story several times, even suggesting the child had taken the missing $900. When the deputy said reaching the speaker — about 6 feet off the ground — would be hard for a child, Abernathy replied it would be “a bit of a reach.”
Abernathy, whose salary is $91,112, was booked into the Land O’Lakes Detention Center on a charge of grand theft. He was freed after posting $2,000 bail.
Superintendent Kurt Browning said Abernathy will be placed on paid administrative leave while the district learns more.