Kids today. What started out as a simple lunchroom incident has become a federal case, literally.
A Texas student used a two dollar bill to pay for her lunch at school recently and it sparked a criminal investigation into forgery.
An eighth grade student at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Houston Texas became the subject of a police investigation after officials at the school accused her of using bogus currency to pay for her school lunch.
Fourteen year old Danesiah Neal sets the scene for us by explaining how the whole affair started, ””I went to the lunch line, and they said my $2 bill was fake. They gave it to the police. Then they sent me to the police office. A police officer said I could be in big trouble.”
Sharon Kay Joseph, Danesiah’s grandmother was called by officials from the school immediately after the exchange, “’Did you give Danesiah a $2 bill for lunch? He told me it was fake,” recalls of the conversation.
After investigating the alleged forgery, authorities from the Fort Bend School District Police determined the two dollar bill was, in fact, legal tender. They tracked the bill’s journey from a convenience store that had given it to Joseph as change for a transaction. They then took the bill to a local bank and had it examined. The uncommon, yet legal bill was issued in 1953 and has remained in circulation since.
Speaking of how the officer handled the situation, Joseph continues, “He brought me my $2 bill back. He didn’t apologize. He should have, and the school should have because they pulled Danesiah out of lunch, and she didn’t eat lunch that day because they took her money.”
She added,”It was very outrageous for them to do it,” Joseph added. “There was no need for police involvement. They’re charging kids like they’re adults now.”
In an interesting aside, the Houston School District admits that during the 2013- 2014 school year about forty similar cases were reported.
Additionally, district officials admit that their records show that all of the forty students investigated for attempting to pass counterfeit currency were minority students, mostly African American or Latino.
Mani Nezami, a Houston Attorney, says, “We see a disproportionate impact on minority youth when it comes to these charges. African-American and Hispanic boys in particular, but girls as well, tend to be overcriminalized for offenses that one might speculate if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be seeing a criminal charge.”
Many people have responded with incredulity at the school employees’ lack of knowledge of United States legal currency saying:
“The police and cashiers in the school need to go back to school and educate themselves on the U.S. money. And after that they should go to school for manners so they could apologize to this young lady and then buy her lunch!!”
“Shame to treat a child that way. Not her fault they are so dumb.”
“What is even sadder is that there is no excuse for the ignorance or stupidity of the school employee or the school police. I live in Houston and there is a recycling business that has been in Houston for at least 30 years that they pay in two dollar bills…”
Have you ever been denied the opportunity to use a two dollar bill because someone thought it was fake? Please share your stories with us here.