Cash giveaway by 12-year-old prompts police questions

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — A 12-year-old student’s actions Monday resulted in police being called to the school, although the student involved didn’t break any laws.

About 600 students attend the modest Sixth Grade Academy, 13500 Pine St., but the school went viral last week after a student brought a backpack filled with cash to school, and began handing out currency to her friends.

Gifts were said to be as much as $200 and $500 to her friends before school officials ended the giveaway. Police and school officials said the backpack — and gifts that were recovered from disappointed students — contained about $20,000.

Taylor Police Chief Mary Sclabassi said the school principal contacted police after discovering the girl’s generosity.

“A 12-year-old girl had a backpack of cash and was giving it out to her friends,” Sclabassi said. “She called us, I’m assuming due to the large amount.”

Teresa WInnie, assistant superintendent of Taylor Schools, issued a statement that explained the police were called because of the large amount of cash, and not for security or suspicion of criminal activity on the part of the student.

“The situation … was truly an unusual one,” Winnie said. “We do not have a specific protocol for this type of situation as we have never dealt with anything like this. There was no threat to the student body in the building and the matter is currently in the hands of the Taylor Police Department.”

The backpack was discovered to belong to neighbors of the girl; a playmate had left the pack at the student’s home over the weekend. Police contacted the alleged owners of the pack and cash who claimed the money, and Sclabassi said on Thursday they were waiting to confirm ownership.

(James Mitchell can be reached at