A Greenville High School teacher caught on video in September dragging a special needs student by the hair has been indicted by a Washington County grand jury.
Linda Winters Johnson is being indicted for abuse of a vulnerable person, which carries upon conviction a penalty of one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
“After a thorough investigation by the Greenville Police Department, investigators turned over their findings of what transpired in the Greenville High School Gymnasium on Sept. 21, 2016,” a press release from District Attorney Dewayne Richardson stated.
Attempts to reach Winters Johnson were unsuccessful.
“It is not common practice for the District Attorney’s Office to comment on pending criminal matters,” Richardson added. “However, the District Attorney’s Office felt it best to keep the community apprised of the status of this case.”
He declined to provide any additional details to Mississippi Today.
On Oct. 6, a Greenville parent posted a video showing Winters Johnson dragging a special needs student by her hair across the gym floor. The video, shot by another student in the building, went viral, gaining millions of viewers in the days after.
Kesha Williams, who posted the video on her Facebook page Thursday, said she did so because she has a special needs child at the school herself and if it had happened to her child, she would have wanted another parent to do the same.
Following release of the video, Winters Johnson was fired, and the Greenville superintendent was placed on administrative leave with pay pending an internal investigation.
The Mississippi Department of Education is also seeking to suspend or revoke her educator license.
At the time of the video’s release, Jody Owens, managing attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Mississippi, said violent acts like those in the video “contribute to a negative school climate, normalize violence and promote fear and anxiety among students and staff.”
Additionally, the lack of reaction from other students and staff in the video indicates “a school environment in which violence is normalized.”
The announcement comes a day before Greenville Superintendent Leeson Taylor will appear before the school board to explain his handling of the situation. School board members have questioned whether Taylor reported the incident in the time required by law and the state education department’s policy.
Winters Johnson’s arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 13.