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Principal Apologizes for Strip Searches

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The principal of a junior high school in Prince George's County, Md., has apologized to the parents of 60 8th-grade girls who were forced to strip to their undergarments so that five teachers looking for stolen money could visually search them.

Brian Porter, a spokesman for the district, said the girls were searched following gym class, after one of the students reported that $33 was missing from her purse. The girls, who all denied knowledge of the theft, were led into a room and told to undress.

Linda Duffy, principal of Walker Mill Middle School, was not at school the day of the mid-May incident, Mr. Porter said, but she issued an apology when she returned.

"The $33 wasn't worth the heartache and shame it caused,'' he said.

He added that the district's superintendent was investigating the matter and would decide if any disciplinary action was required.

"State law permits appropriate searches,'' he said, "but not anything like this.''--E.F.

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