An honors student's family is protesting after he was suspended from school for unknowingly buying lunch with a counterfeit $20 bill.
Christian Philon, 12, was given a 10-day in-school suspension from Stockbridge, Georgia's Austin Road Middle School after trying to pay for his meal with the phony bill.
Christian and his parents insist they had no idea the money was bogus, and even reported the bill to the police. But the school refused to reverse his punishment.
His father, Earvin, says he was given the $20 in his change from a fast food restaurant, and gave the bill to Christian for his lunch money.
"I've never handled counterfeit money," he explained. "I don't know what it looks like."
"If we knew it, he wouldn't have had it," Christian's mother Gwen told WSB-TV, "but we didn't know."
Christian says he was just as baffled as his parents when a cafeteria worker caught the bill with counterfeit detecting ink last week.
"I was confused on how the money was counterfeit. And how my parents received it," he said.
At a disciplinary hearing this week, the school heard Christian's side of the story but didn't call off his punishment, insisting he violated a rule in the school's code of conduct against using counterfeit money.
The Philons say that the suspension is a blemish on their son's otherwise perfect record, since Christian is a straight-A student and athlete. They don't understand why the school won't reverse the punishment.
"They said, 'You possessed it, so you're going to have to pay for it,'" Christian said. "The whole process has been unfair."
So far, Austin Road has not commented on Christian's story. The Philons plan to continue to appeal their son's punishment.