The mother of a fourth-grader in Maryland has launched a petition after her son was questioned by police — and the Secret Service — for using play money.
Tiffany Kelly’s issue is what she says is “over policing” concerning non-white boys. As such, she launched a petition last month to present to officials within the Montgomery County Public School district.
“On May 14, 2019, my son took play money to school (purchased from Amazon). He is excited about money and learning to count ‘his money,’ she explained in a letter accompanying the petition. “In an attempt for socialization, something he struggles with, he passed it out on the school bus to his peers. 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.”
She went on to explain that one of the bills was discovered on a school bus and police were called. Officers arrived to question her son and the police also called Secret Service.
“Outrageous,” Kelly said of what her 10-year-old endured. “I did not know any of this occurred until almost 4 pm, at the end of the school day, when the officer decided to call me. She further let me know that fake/play/counterfeit money is not illegal unless someone tries to spend it; he absolutely did not.”
“My son did not break a law,” Kelly told NBC Washington. “You should not have contact with law enforcement questioning you about anything unless a crime is suspected.”
“It is not fair to believe that a person of color perhaps he has committed a crime,” she added, noting she should have been called rather than police. “I do not believe it would have happened to someone had they not been a minority.”
For its part, a spokesman for the school system sent a statement to NBC News saying it is school policy for authorities to be called for suspicion or evidence that a student attempted to use fake money to buy an item.
“The police should not have been called,” the spokesman said regarding Kelly’s son.
“MCPS staff are actively working with the parent to address her concerns,” the spokesman continued. “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.”
Montgomery County police told NBC Washington racial profiling was not at play.
Meanwhile, Kelly has shared in an update on her petition that she has spoken to officials who said, “there is an opportunity to identify and clarify procedures in situations like this.” She told NBC News her hope is that no other boy has to go through something like this.