San Diego

Parents Say Police Questioned Kids Over Fake Cash Without Consent

A Valencia Park mother wants the local elementary school principal to step down after allowing a San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) police officer to question two boys without contacting their families first.

The 7 and 8-year-old boys were playing with fake, yet realistic $100 bills in class.

“You could tell it was fake when you looked at it closely, but it was well done,” said Valencia Park Elementary School Principal Lori Moore.

The bills with Benjamin Franklin in the middle had the word “copy” printed on the top left corner and also had some lines not usually associated with US currency. Jamie Wilson told NBC 7 her son’s friend got dozens of the fake bills from his father who used them in a music video.

“He brings it to school, gave my son a few thousand dollars,” Jamie Wilson chuckled. “Our children who are exhibiting age-appropriate behaviors of children are being responded to as if there was criminal behavior.”

The boys were passing out the bills in class Monday when a teacher became concerned. An SDUSD spokeswoman said the teacher sent the bills in an envelope to Principal Moore, who contacted San district police. The spokeswoman said that is what they’re supposed to do with counterfeit money.

“The police were here to pick up the money,” said Moore. “There was no discipline.”

However, Wilson said her son was questioned by the officer without her consent. She said she did not know it happened until her son got home after school.

“It made me very angry,” said Wilson, who was flanked by about a dozen community members outside the school.

“My son will have enough encounters with the police being a young black man,” she said. “He doesn’t need to have it starting here in elementary school.”

Principal Moore downplayed the interaction between the officer and the boys.

“They weren’t investigating the kids,” she said. “They were just asking them where the money had come from.”

The SDUSD spokeswoman said district police officers are regularly on campus and often interact with students as educators.

Nevertheless, Wilson did not like an officer questioning her son without her permission. She called for Principal Moore to quit.

“There are some amazing teachers at this school. I would like one of them to step into her position and take over as principal,” Wilson said.

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