Most teachers need to be paid more. This Michigan teacher just needs to gamble less.
Lydia Christine Johnson is a 29-year-old high school teacher in Shelby Township, Michigan, teaching math and Spanish.
In addition to her teaching duties, she was also the school’s student activity coordinator, meaning she was responsible for student event and field trip funds.
Like the funds raised from the homecoming dance, which totaled almost $30,000; only $11,000 of that made it into the school’s bank account.
Or the funds the school collected for a student trip to a camp — $13,000. Unfortunately, the school only saw about $500 of that.
Where was all that money going? The MGM Grand Detroit casino. Records show that Johnson gambled more than $90,000 on penny slots in 2016.
Apparently, she left receipts and empty homecoming dance envelopes as a paper trail. Investigators also found cash deposit envelopes torn open and empty in her classroom.
It’s unclear how Johnson thought this would all end. Did she think the school would never notice thousands of dollars missing?
The school certainly did notice, when the camp came to collect the money, and it wasn’t there. The camp then contacted the school district, and that prompted the investigation that revealed Johnson’s embezzlement and excessive gambling.
Johnson faces a felony charge of embezzlement from a nonprofit organization, and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. She has been placed on administrative leave by the school district.
This writer’s perspective
Many public schools are struggling financially, and this woman wasted thousands of dollars on penny slots. That’s a real loss for the district, and students will suffer for it.
Although Michigan schools received a funding increase for the 2018 fiscal year, Chippewa Valley Schools (where this incident occurred) is one of the districts that receives the minimum amount per student. Losing $30,000 is no small matter.