After a Texas middle school student used a $2 bill to pay for her cafeteria lunch, she was investigated by authorities for forgery.
Danesiah Neal, 14, an eighth grader at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Houston, was 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.”
Danesiah’s grandmother, Sharon Kay Joseph — who had given her the $2 bill — received a phone call from school officials just after the incident.
“‘Did you give Danesiah a $2 bill for lunch?'” Joseph recalled being asked. “He told me it was fake.”
The Fort Bend Independent School District police eventually discovered that a local convenience store had given the $2 bill to Joseph. The detectives then visited a bank where the 1953-issued bill was inspected 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.”
During the 2013-2014 school year, 40 similar cases were reported in the three Houston-area school districts.
According to their records, all of the 40 kids who were investigated were minority students — most of them Black or Hispanic, EAG News reported.
“We see a disproportionate impact on minority youth when it comes to these charges,” attorney Mani Nezami said, according to KTRK. “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.”