After a 10-year-old boy was confronted by law enforcement for having fake money, his mother is saying her “nightmare has come true.”
Tiffany Kelly’s son has ADHD, non-verbal learning disorder; he may also have autism spectrum disorder. When he expressed excitement about learning to count cash, the 43-year-old mom bought him play money to use from Amazon.
While the bank note looks similar to a U.S. $100 bill, it has bright red Chinese characters near Benjamin Franklin and dark black dashes through the numerals to distinguish it as a phony currency. “I didn’t think it would be a huge problem because there are marks that distinguish it from being real,” Kelly tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
But on the morning of May 14, Kelly’s son boarded the bus to his elementary school with his fake bills. And, as Kelly explained in a Change.org petition, passed out the money to his peers “in an attempt for socialization.”
The bus driver later found one of the faux bank notes at the bus depot. Believing the money to be counterfeit, the driver and the bus supervisor called in local authorities. After reviewing surveillance footage showing the bill belonged to Kelly’s kid, a police officer went to the child’s elementary school to interrogate the fourth-grader.
There, the principal and officer questioned the boy about the phony bills. The officer determined there was nothing to investigate.
Because of how the situation was handled (Kelly claims she wasn’t notified of the police’s presence until after the incident was declared a false alarm), Kelly believes that her son is the victim of racial profiling.
“My child’s right were violated because he doesn’t understand the magnitude of what could have happened,” Kelly says. “All children are the same but they are not treated the same, they are not disciplined the same. I'm angry that the people I trusted my son with, have proven to me that I really don't know who I can trust.”
Kelly has sent the petition, which has more than 400 signatures, to the Montgomery County board of education, the school district’s superintendent, the director of transportation and the local police chief.
The Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) denies any wrongdoing. Captain Tom Jordan, the MCPD director of public information, says the department was simply doing its job, even going “beyond policy” to notify Kelly of the questioning after the fact.
“I understand her concerns and her fears in this day and age. The conversations we had with the young man notifying the mom is what we should be doing and that’s exactly what we did,” Jordan tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Disability or race was not involved in this at all. We were investigating the case, but not based on race or gender.”
Kelly says the school has made amends with her and is planning meetings to discuss how things could have been handled differently. Montgomery County Public Schools have yet to respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
She is, however, not as pleased with MCPD’s less apologetic response. “I am disgusted by their inability to recognize that they could have handled this a lot better ... and I respect them so much. They have one of the hardest jobs in the nation,” Kelly says. “Until they can at least say let's work on doing better, I don't think that I will be satisfied. Because every day, for a parent like me, is another day of anxiety and worry. And until I don't have to worry about that again, I don't think that I will be satisfied.”
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