Civics Teacher Arrested in McDonald’s Hash-Brown Smackdown

A Florida middle school civics teacher who was arrested Saturday for misdemeanor battery denied she threw a hash brown at a McDonalds employee.

Simone Paolercio, 39, was arrested at her Lakeland, Fla., home a few hours after she allegedly hit a McDonalds employee with a hash brown in a drive-thru scuffle that was caught on camera. The employee and manager refused to take back $20 worth of food and would not give Paolercio, who had her four children with her in the car, a refund for her incorrect order.

After being told by the cashier and the manager that she could not trade her food back for a refund,  Paolercio began setting her bags of  food down on a window still, some of which toppled over and allegedly hit the cashier.

"I meticulously put the food down," she said. "I did not hit her."

Paolercio said the cashier told her there were only two hash browns on the receipt and that she would have to pay an additional $1.50 for two more hash browns.

"I said, 'I'm not charging $1.50 on my card,' and [the cashier] said, 'we dont give away free food.' I told her, 'I don't want free food. I just want you to get my order correct,"' Paolercio said. "I had yet to look at my receipt because I assumed my order was correct."

But the officer who viewed the video said in the police report that a hash brown was observed flying out of a bag.

"Simone Paolercio, did actually and intentionally strike the victim, Jessica Balderas, against her will by throwing food that struck Jessica in the head and chest," the police report stated.

Paolercio said police officers came to her home around 1 p.m. and interviewed her 17-year-old daughter, who was sitting in the front seat of the car at the time of the incident.

At that point, Paolercio said an apologetic officer cuffed her and took her into the station, where she said she was held for 24 hours while she said she waited for her paperwork to be processed.

"I would tell my students I'm the prime example that apparently the American justice system is there, but sometimes you may have overzealous officers that will violate your rights," Paolercio said. "I do have hope that this is the same justice system that will clear my name. "