A Houston middle school student was reportedly investigated for forgery after trying to use a $2 bill to pay for lunch.
Danesiah Neal, 14, is an eighth grader at Christa McAuliffe Middle School, KTRK reports. She was recently investigated by police after school officials accused her of using fake money to buy lunch.
“I went to the lunch line, and they said my $2 bill was fake,” Danesiah, who was 13 at the time, told KTRK. “They gave it to the police. Then they sent me to the police office. A police officer said I could be in big trouble.”
Sharon Kay Joseph, Danesiah’s grandmother, had given her the $2 bill. She received a phone call from school officials shortly after the incident.
“‘Did you give Danesiah a $2 bill for lunch?'” Joseph recalled being asked. “He told me it was fake.”
The investigation led Fort Bend Independent School District police to a local convenience store that reportedly gave the $2 bill to Joseph. Officers then visited a bank, where the 1953-issued bill was examined and determined to be real.
“He brought me my $2 bill back,” Joseph said. “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.”
“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.”
This isn’t the first time a student faced a felony investigation for an alleged lunch line forgery. During the 2013-2014 school year, 40 similar cases were reported from three Houston-area school districts.
All of the 40 kids who were investigated were minority students, according to their records; the majority were black or Hispanic.
“We see a disproportionate impact on minority youth when it comes to these charges,” attorney Mani Nezami said. “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.”