by Sheila Gardner
Nevada Appeal News Service

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March 5, 2010
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Makeup artist ordered to get 13-year-old to school

Makeup artist Kandee Johnson faces 90 days in Douglas County Jail if she fails to make sure that her now 13-year-old son attends middle school.

Johnson pleaded guilty Wednesday in East Fork Justice Court to contributing to her son's educational neglect.

In exchange for her guilty plea, the district attorney's office dropped a charge of child endangerment in connection with the same child.

East Fork Justice Jim EnEarl sentenced Johnson to 90 days, suspended, and fined her $130.

Prosecutor Karen Dustman said Johnson had received a half-dozen letters from the school about her son's multiple absences.

Even if Johnson has a doctor's excuse for her son's absence, she is to notify juvenile probation officers. EnEarl also ordered Johnson to follow any case plan drawn up by Nevada Child Protective Services.

Johnson's lawyer, Chuck Zumpft, said his client was a single mother of three and overwhelmed by her responsibility of getting the boy to school.

"I set three alarm clocks. I make sure he gets on the bus," Johnson said. "He's incredibly bright. There are not even words to say how frustrating it is to deal with him."

"Well, you haven't done enough," EnEarl said.

Dustman asked for a 180-day suspended sentence and 24-hour supervision of the boy by a responsible adult, "not just somebody checking in."

Zumpft said Johnson had no criminal history and didn't use drugs or alcohol.

He said her son started having troubles in school that led to stomach ailments.

"She was overwhelmed raising three kids. Many times he did not go to school, but he took advantage of his mother," Zumpft said.

Dustman said the boy had serious truancy issues and would receive no credit for the last semester. He also is under the supervision of juvenile probation.

"He is receiving no credit for the last semester," Dustman said. "She may be an inspiration to others, but she didn't inspire this child to go to school. He is standing to lose an entire school year. Ms. Johnson is not the victim, this child is."

She said Johnson shared custody of her two youngest children with their father.

Zumpft said the child endangerment charge was dismissed "because the case would have gone away anyway."

She was accused of leaving the boy unsupervised in November for one or more days in a house in the Johnson Lane area that officers said was littered with dirty dishes and food remnants.

The criminal complaint states the boy and a 12-year-old friend had access to materials to create a "hand-held flame-thrower" from an aerosol can of hairspray.

Deputies were called to the house at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 by a neighbor who observed the boys tossing burning materials over a fence.

The neighbor claimed the juvenile's mother was never around and the child was unsupervised.

"She's a makeup artist. He fires up a hairspray can. Who hasn't done that?" Zumpft said.

Dustman disagreed the state lacked evidence. She said the charge was dismissed as part of a plea bargain.

"This needs to become her no. 1 priority. Not her Los Angeles career, not her videos," Dustman said.

Zumpft asked that Johnson be given a 10-day suspended sentence.

"For my client, if she spent 10 days in jail, it would be an eternity. She's a good parent, a good person who couldn't control her son."

Johnson has an extensive fan base on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with her makeup videos. Since charges were filed in January, Johnson has been the subject of heated debate on The Record-Courier Web site with comments evenly divided by supporters and detractors.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Mar 5, 2010 02:28AM Published Mar 5, 2010 02:27AM Copyright 2010 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.