UPDATE: School official says boy wrongly punished for fake lunch money

Published: Jan. 17, 2019 at 4:41 PM EST
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Friday, January 18, 2019

MCDONOUGH, Ga. (AP) — A school superintendent in Georgia said Friday a 12-year-old boy who tried to buy lunch with a counterfeit $20 bill appears to have been unaware the bill was fake and should not have been punished.

The decision came after Christian Philon complained that administrators at Austin Road Middle School in metro Atlanta gave him 10 days of in-school suspension after a lunchroom cashier using a marker to check bills discovered last week that his lunch money was fake.

Philon and his parents said the boy had been given the bogus bill by his father, who received it as change from a fast food restaurant. They said the boy and his father both believed it was real.

Henry County Schools said in a statement Friday that a sheriff's deputy investigated and determined "there was no intent on the student's actions nor did the student have knowledge that he was in possession of a counterfeit bill."

Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis reviewed the findings and decided the punishment wasn't warranted.

"The student has returned to class," Davis said in the school system's statement, which did not mention Philon by name.

The boy's father, Earvin Philon, previously told WSB-TV that he reported the bill to police after the lunchroom worker discovered it was counterfeit Jan. 10, hoping the police report would clear his son's name. Regardless, a school disciplinary panel Wednesday upheld the boy's punishment before being overruled by the superintendent.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

MCDONOUGH, Ga. (AP) — A 12-year-old Georgia boy says he had no clue a $20 bill his father gave him was fake until he tried to buy lunch at school, where administrators suspended him for using counterfeit cash.

Christian Philon and his parents said the bogus bill fooled them until a lunchroom cashier at Austin Road Middle School checked it with a marker and determined it was fake. School administrators punished Christian with 10 days of in-school suspension, the family said.

"They said, 'You possessed it, so you're going to have to pay for it,'" the boy

His father, Earvin Philon, said he received the bad bill as change at a fast food restaurant and, not realizing it was fake, gave it to his son. He said he reported the bill to police after the lunchroom worker discovered it was counterfeit Jan. 10, but a school disciplinary panel Wednesday upheld his son's punishment.

"The whole process has been unfair," Christian said.

Henry County Schools spokesman J.D. Hardin did not immediately return phone and email messages from The Associated Press seeking comment Thursday. The TV station reported that school officials said they could not comment on a disciplinary matter involving a student.

Christian's parents said they will continue to fight to clear their son, whom they described as a straight-A student and an athlete.

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