A Texas student used a two dollar bill to pay for her lunch at school and it started a criminal investigation.
The eighth grade student at Christa McAuliffe School in Houston, Texas became the subject of a police investigation after officials at the school accused her of using bogus currency to pay for her school lunch.
Fourteen year old Danesiah Neal explained how the whole thing started. “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 officer. A police officer said I could be in big trouble.”
Sharon Kay Joseph, Danesiah’s grandmother was called by officials from the school immediately after the exchange, “Did you give Danesiah a $2 bill for lunch? He told me it was fake.”
After investigating the alleged forgery, authorities from the Fort Bend School District Police determined the two dollar bill was, in fact, legal. They tracked the bill from a convenience store that gave it Sharon Kay Joseph as change for a transaction. They then took the bill to a local bank and had it examined. The legal bill was issued in 1953 and still remains in circulation.
Speaking on how the officer handled the situation, Joseph continues, “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.”
She continued, “It was very outrageous for them to do it,” Joseph added. “There was no need for police involvement. They’re charging kids like they’re adults now.”
In an interesting aside, the Houston School District admits that during the 2013-2014 school year, there were around 40 similar cases reported.
Additionally, district officials admit that their records show that all of the forty cases investigated for trying to pass counterfeit currency were minority students, mostly African American or Latino.
Mani Nezami, a Houston Attorney, says, “We see a disproportionate impact on minority youth when it comes to these charges. African-American and Hispanic boys in particular, but girls as well, tend to be overcriminalized for offenses that one might speculate if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be seeing a criminal charge.”
Many people have responded with incredulity at the school employees’ lack of knowledge of United States legal currency saying:
“The police and cashiers in the school need to go back to school and educate themselves on the U.S. money. And after that they should go to school for manners so they could apologize to this young lady and then buy her lunch!!”
“Shame to treat a child that way. Not her fault they are so dumb.”
“What is even sadder is that there is no excuse for the ignorance or stupidity of the school employee or the school police. I live in Houston and there is a recycling business that has been in Houston for at least 30 years that they pay in two dollar bills…”
Have you ever been denied the chance to use a $2 bill?