Christian Philon
Photo: Channel 2 Action News
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Back in class: Honor student unknowingly used counterfeit bill for lunch, district says

A 12-year-old honor student who was suspended in Henry County for unintentionally using counterfeit money to pay for lunch has returned to class on the superintendent’s order.

Christian Philon, a student at McDonough’s Austin Road Middle School, was previously suspended for 10 days, Channel 2 Action News reported. However, Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis decided there was no intent on the student’s behalf to present counterfeit money Jan. 10, school district spokesman J.D. Hardin said in a statement.

MORE: Honor student suspended for unintentionally using counterfeit money in school lunch line

Christian’s father, Earvin Philon, told Channel 2 earlier this week he gave his son a $20 bill that he received in change from a fast-food restaurant.

“I’ve never handled counterfeit money,” Earvin Philon said. “I don't know what it looks like. ... There was no way when I gave it to my son that he knew it was counterfeit.”

Christian, a straight-A student and athlete, said he learned the money was fake when the cashier marked the bill with a counterfeit pen.

“I was confused on how the money was counterfeit and how my parents received it,” he said.

His parents filed a police report about unknowingly receiving the counterfeit bill. They thought that would convince school officials to reverse their initial decision.

However, a panel previously upheld his suspension at a Wednesday disciplinary hearing, stating the code of conduct prohibits possession of counterfeit currency, regardless of circumstance.

His parents appealed their son’s punishment, which the superintendent reversed Friday. 

“The Superintendent found the assignment of punishment to lack the necessary discretion given the evidence produced that the student was completely unaware,” the statement said. “Additionally, she has directed the immediate examination of the entire Code of Conduct and the process for assigning consequences for student infractions.”

In other news:

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.