Danesiah Neal, an eight grader who is just 14-years old, was trying to buy lunch at her middle school.
When she tried to pay, the school called the police.
The school said her money was fake and accused her of forgery. They gave her money to the authorities.
All because she tried to pay with a $2 bill.
The kicker of this story is that Danesiah was using actual money. Two dollar bills are rare, but they’re legal tender. So why did her school bring in the police?
Danesiah is a student at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Houston Texas. She was innocently paying for lunch with the money her grandmother, Sharon Kay Joseph, gave her.
“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,” she said.
Shortly after, Sharon received a call from the police. They questioned whether she gave the money to young Danesiah. Sharon was understandably upset. The situation escalated quickly.
Fortunately for Danesiah, the police were able to quickly determine that the bill was real.
They took the $2 bill to a bank to have in analyzed. The bill had been in circulation since 1953, a long shelf-life for a rare bill, but being rare isn’t the same thing as being illegal. They traced the bill back to a transaction at a local convenience store, where Sharon received it while receiving change back.
But by the time police were able to prove that the bill was valid, the damage had already been done.
“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,” Sharon said.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first case of the Houston school district accusing students of forgery. As many as forty other cases occurred between 2013 and 2014. Many of the accused students were African American and Latino.
This brings some troubling questions to mind. Why are schools calling the police on their students? Is calling the police an effective way to address problems with young people? Are the accusations fair?
Many community members are upset with the school and the police for how they’ve treated these young students, calling for better education for school employees who handle money.
Do you think the school was being fair when they called the police?
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