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Student, 12, suspended by Georgia middle school for unknowingly using fake $20 bill in school cafeteria line


Says father gave him the money

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A middle school honor student in McDonough, Georgia, unknowingly used counterfeit money to pay for his lunch and received 10 days of in-school suspension.

What was the explanation?

Christian Philon, 12, and his parents both said they had no idea the money was fake, WSB-TV reported.

The discovery was made by a school cafeteria worker who used a counterfeit detection marker on the $20 bill at Austin Road Middle School in Henry County, Georgia.

"I was confused on how the money was counterfeit. And how my parents received it," Christian told the TV station.

The straight-A grade honor student and athlete, was sent to the assistant principal's office and was promptly placed on in-school suspension, the report states.

"I've never handled counterfeit money. I don't know what it looks like," Earvin Philon, the boy's father, told the TV station.

Philon, a retired vet, said he received the bill as change from a fast food restaurant and gave it to his son for lunch money.

"Me not knowing when I counted my money that it was counterfeit, and there was no way when I gave it to my son that he knew it was counterfeit," Philon said.

But the school told Christian he'd have to pay the consequences. "They said, 'You possessed it, so you're going to have to pay for it,'" Christian told the TV station.

"If we knew it, he wouldn't have had it. But we didn't know it," said Gwen Philon, his mother.

Christian's parents reportedly filed a police report about getting the counterfeit bill as change.

They thought that would be enough for the school to drop the suspension. But following a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, the school decided to not make an exception. Christian violated the school's code of conduct by possession of counterfeit currency, the hearing determined.

"The final remark was, 'He possessed it,'" Gwen Philon said.

Christian called the whole process unfair.

What's next?

His parents said they will appeal the punishment. They also hope to clear their son's name.

School officials told media they cannot comment on student disciplinary matters.

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