A former elementary school lunch lady has been sentenced to seven days in jail and a year of probation for paying students $1 to beat up a fourth-grader.
Brooke Wilson-Johnson, 19, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was working as a lunchroom aide at Campus Elementary when the incident took place. According to Wilson-Johnson’s claims, the fourth-grader had disobeyed her and called her a “pregnant bitch,” and that prompted the school employee to pay a few students $1 to hurt him.
"What makes your case unique is, of course, you are entrusted with the care of other people's children and that is significant," said Kent County District Judge Donald Passenger to Wilson-Johnson in court. "In this case, the conduct is particularly egregious, and I think you get that with hindsight."
The student who was pushed around by his peers apparently went to teacher Renee Lance to tell her that Wilson-Johnson paid the other kids to hurt him.
“Mrs. Lance, you gotta help me! That lunch lady is giving kids a dollar to beat me up,” Lance claims the student said to her.
Wilson-Johnson initially denied the claims against her, but on February 14, she wound up pleading guilty. Judge Passenger said that because she has no prior criminal record and because the student wasn’t injured, he didn’t want the punishment to be too harsh.
"I think seven days in jail is probably enough to have the impact that we want,” said Passenger. The lunch lady will also be required to pay a total fine $1,125, of which $200 has already been credited after repaying bond in December, leaving her with $925 left to pay.
Wilson-Johnson was sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which stipulates that the young woman’s records would be sealed and once she successfully completes probation, the charge against her would be dropped completely.
"It is a special status for first-time offenders between the ages of 17 and 21," said Charles Boekeloo, the lunch lady’s attorney. "If she completes her probation satisfactorily, there never will be a conviction."
The victim was reportedly pushed, thrown out of his seat, and had his lunch taken away by the paid peers, but he did not report any injuries as a result. His mother Stacey McLain said she was mostly happy with the sentencing.
"I believe this will teach her a lesson," said McLain. "I would have been happier if she was also required to take parenting and anger management classes because people need more than punishment."
Wilson-Johnson stopped working at Campus Elementary following the incident in October.