A 12-year-old honor student in Georgia was suspended for unwittingly paying for his lunch with a $20 bill that turned out to be counterfeit.
The middle school student, Christian Philon, attends Austin Road Middle School in Stockbridge, an Atlanta suburb.
His parents told WSB-TV in Atlanta that they will be fighting the suspension.
The trouble began Jan. 10 when Christian gave the lunch lady a counterfeit bill his dad had unknowingly given him for lunch, the television station reported.
“I’ve never handled counterfeit money. I don't know what it looks like," his father, Earvin Philon, said.
Philon told WSB-TV he received the $20 bill as change from a fast food restaurant and had no reason to doubt it was real.
It proved to be fake when the school cafeteria employee marked it with a counterfeit pen.
That landed Christian, a straight-A honor student and athlete, in hot water. He was sent to the assistant principal's office and eventually received 10 days of in-school suspension for violating the school's code of conduct.
The school district's student handbook includes a rule against even possessing counterfeit money.
"They pretty much said, 'You possessed it, so you're going to have to pay for it,'" Christian said.
The family filed a police report explaining they had unknowingly received the bill, hoping it would clear up the issue at school, but to no avail.
“The final remark was, ‘He possessed it,’” said Christian's mother, Gwen Philon.
"The whole process has been unfair," Christian added.
The family plans to appeal Christian's punishment and continue to fight to clear his name, they told WSB-TV.
A school official told the TV station that the school cannot comment on student disciplinary matters.
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