HENRY COUNTY, GA (WSB/CNN) - One Atlanta area 12-year-old student said he had no idea the money he used to buy his lunch at school was fake.
But the school punished him anyway.
“I’ve never handled counterfeit money, I don’t know what it looks like,” said Earvin Philon, the boy’s father.
Philon, a retired vet, assumed a $20 bill that he got in change from a fast food restaurant was real.
He gave it to his son to pay for lunch.
But when the lunch lady marked it with a counterfeit pen, it turned out to be fake.
"I was confused on how the money was counterfeit, and how my parents received it," Christian Philon said.
“Me not knowing when I counted my money that it was counterfeit, and there was no way when I gave it to my son, he knew it was counterfeit,” Earvin Philon said.
Christian, a straight A honor student and athlete, was sent to the assistant principal’s office and put on school suspension.
He said he tried to explain but the school would not have it.
“They said ‘you possessed it so you’re going to have to pay for it,’” he said.
“If we knew it, he wouldn’t have had it,” said Gwen Philon, the boy’s mother. “But we didn’t know it.”
The couple filed a police report about unknowingly receiving the counterfeit bill.
They assumed that would clear their son's name.
But following a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, a panel decided regardless of circumstance, Christian violated the code of conduct prohibiting possession of counterfeit currency.
He received 10 days in school suspension.
His parents said they are going to fight that.
"It's just wrong, wrong," his father said.
"The whole process has been unfair," Christian said, defending himself.