Honor student suspended for unintentionally using counterfeit money in school lunch line

A 12-year-old honor student was suspended for 10 days after he unintentionally used counterfeit money to pay for his lunch at a Henry County middle school in McDonough, Georgia, according to WSB-TV.

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Now the parents of Christian Philon are trying to clear their son’s name.

WSB-TV reported Christian handed a cashier at McDonough's Austin Road Middle School a $20 bill last Thursday. His father had given him the money from change he received at a fast-food restaurant.

"I've never handled counterfeit money," Earvin Philon said. "I don't know what it looks like. ... There was no way when I gave it to my son that he knew it was counterfeit."

Christian, a straight-A student and athlete, said he learned the money was fake when the cashier marked the bill with a counterfeit pen.

“I was confused on how the money was counterfeit and how my parents received it,” he said.

Christian said as much when he was sent to an assistant principal’s office.

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

The payment? In-school suspension.

His parents filed a police report about unknowingly receiving the counterfeit bill. They thought that would convince school officials to reverse their decision. It did not. The code of conduct prohibits possession of counterfeit currency, regardless of the circumstance. At a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, a panel upheld the suspension.

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

His parents said they will appeal their son's punishment.

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