Police and Secret Service Called on Student for Playing with Fake Money

A Maryland mother says that her 10-year-old son was questioned by police for playing with fake money on a school bus.Tiffany Kelly wrote in a Change.org petition her son had taken play money that she had purchased from Amazon to his school in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on May 14. She states that her son, who has disabilities, was trying to socialize with the other children at school with the money.

“He is excited about money and learning to count "his money." In an attempt for socialization, something he struggles with, he passed it out on the school bus to his peers,” Kelly wrote in the petition. “The money has bright pink Asian symbols on the front and back, along with dotted lines, so that it can be distinguished as play money.” Kelly states that one of the dollar bills her son had was found on the bus at the bus depot, and someone called the police on her son. The police notified the Secret Service, she said. The mother wrote that she received a call from police at 4 pm about the incident from a police officer, stating that it would have been illegal if her son had tried to use the money if he tried to spend it, which she says he did not do. “Nothing illegal occurred; who at Montgomery County Public Schools decided this was an offense that was of such a possible imminent danger to others that a call to law enforcement had to be made, instead of a call to mom? Where in their policy does this action support a call to the police for an elementary age child?” Kelly wrote. Kelly, who is Black, said that she had recently moved to Chevy Chase, Maryland, from Central Florida with her son. The neighborhood in Maryland is 85.4 percent white, 8.2 percent Hispanic or Latino and 5.3 percent Black, according to census data.

The mother called the incident “outrageous” and said that the police department contributed to the “over-policing of minority children.”

“Kids play with fake money. It's even used as an educational tool. Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery County PD, you must not allow this to happen again,” Kelly wrote. “You are contributing to the over-policing of minority children.”

In a statement to The North Star, a spokesperson from the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) stated that the “police should not have been called” for this situation. “MCPS staff are actively are working with the parent to address her concerns. There were some clear missteps on our part and we are working to ensure the process is clear moving forward for staff and that incidents like this do not happen again,” the statement from the district read. “Our practice is to call the police if there is suspicion and/or evidence of a student trying to use counterfeit money to purchase something. But that wasn’t the case in this situation and the police should not have been called.” A spokesperson from the Montgomery County Police Department confirmed to The North Star that the police and the secret service were called and had a conversation with Kelly’s son. They noted the principal was present while the 10-year-old boy was questioned. The department’s spokesperson claimed that there was no racial profiling during their investigation.

This is not the first time a mother has called out a school district for mistreating their children. In May, a mother filed a lawsuit against her biracial son’s school district and two transportation employees after a video showed her son getting trapped in the doors of a school bus. In a video obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune, Brenda Mayes’ seventh-grade son, who attends West Point Junior High School in Utah, can be seen walking off the bus with a few other white students in front of him. As the 14-year-old attempts to get off the bus, the bus driver closes the doors on the backpack, traps him, and drives 150 feet while the teen can be seen swinging by his backpack.

The bus driver, who has been identified as John Naisbitt, has reportedly closed the bus doors on two other biracial students and called them “stupid” and idiots,” FOX 13 previously reported. Three days after the incident with Mayes’ son, Naisbitt retired to prevent himself from being fired, the news station reported.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.