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New Jersey official overrules local district, fires school security guard for excessive force

Feb. 13, 2017
State monitor fires security guard in Pleasantville (N.J.) school district.

A state monitor in New Jersey has overturned the decision of the Pleasantville school board and has fired a longtime school security guard for allegedly using excessive force that left marks on a student’s throat.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that state school monitor Constance Bauer determined, based on her review of the evidence, that termination of Terry Barnes was appropriate.

“Promoting safety for students is a paramount public interest,” Bauer says in a letter to the school board, “and on occasions when I believe the board’s actions may be inconsistent with this fundamental principle, as state monitor I will take such actions under review.”

At a board meeting last month, Barnes said he did not hurt the child in the Dec. 1 incident and did not know he was in trouble until he was called to the human resources office and told he was suspended pending termination. He and a union representative met with the board in a closed session.

After the closed session, three of eight board members voted to fire Barnes; two voted against termination, two abstained, and one was absent.

Bauer said in her letter to the board that she based her decision on a review of the investigative report that included interviews and photographs of the victim. She also noted that Barnes had been suspended in 2011 following a physical altercation with a student.

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