Principal takes 5th graders to store to apologize for shoplifting; mom upset

Friday, March 13, 2015
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An elementary school principal is under investigation after HISD officials said she tried to teach several students a lesson to not shoplift

HOUSTON -- A Houston elementary school principal is under investigation after district officials said she tried to teach several students a lesson to not shoplift.

"I know I did not steal anything," said Omari Price, 11. "(The principal) said, 'Tell the truth because I don't like liars and thieves.'"

Price said his principal, Alecia Bell, didn't believe him or his friends. Bell called the students' parents.

"She said a student reported that my son and other kids had been stealing after school from the Family Dollar store," said Price's mother, Mary Powell. "I told her I'm in traffic on 45. I'll be there in about 40 minutes."

Powell said when he arrived at the school, her son was not there. She found Principal Bell took the three fifth-grade students to the Family Dollar store. Powell said she was furious.

"She put him in her personal vehicle and took him. Anything could've happened," said Powell.

Once at the store, Price said his principal instructed him and his friends to apologize for the theft. Price said he did what he was told.

"At first, I was crying and I said there's no sense of crying because I didn't do it," said Price.

Powell said she went to the Family Dollar store near Hartsfield Elementary to look for her son and the principal. She said the manager there told her they had just left.

"They said they have seen my son in the store. He always pays when he comes into the store," said Powell.

Powell said she finally found her son waiting for her at the elementary school. She said she confronted the principal and has now filed a police report. She said disciplining her child is her role, not the principal's. Price said her son is too embarrassed now to go back to school.

"I really don't want to. Everyone is going to start saying that were thieves and stuff," said Price.

An HISD district official issued a statement to Eyewitness news. The representative acknowledged that Principal Bell took the students off campus to the Family Dollar store during school hours. The representative said the case is under investigation and could not say whether or not a police had been violated.