School Security Officer Fired for Use of Force in Reverse of Previous Ruling

The officer had worked for the Pleasantville School District for 15 years.

A longtime New Jersey school security officer was terminated for his use of force on a student after a previous ruling was overturned by the state monitor last month.

Former Pleasantville School District security officer Terry Barnes was fired after New Jersey school monitor Constance Bauer overturned a school board decision Jan. 19.

The details of that decision were recently released following an Open Records Request by the Press of Atlantic City.

RELATED: Fla. Teens Arrested After SRO Uncovers School Shooting Plot

The initial decision not to fire Barnes, who had worked for the district for 15 years, was made at a school board meeting Jan. 17. In that meeting, which Barnes attended, board members split their vote on Barnes’ employment.

Barnes and his union representative spoke to board members during the closed portion of that meeting. Barnes said he did not think he hurt the student in the Dec. 1 incident and was unaware he was in trouble until being told of his suspension by the human resources office.

Linda Henderson also defended school security staff during that meeting.

“You are not sending a good message,” Henderson said. “If a child is a danger, we must passively restrain. First, we try to talk them down, but if a child can’t contain themselves, then we must restrain. There is no intent to harm. We are the first people to come when there is a problem. You can’t punish us for doing our job.”

But Bauer sent a letter to the school board two days after their vote informing them of her decision to terminate Barnes. She cited her review of the investigative report on the incident, which included interviews and photographs of the victim. The victim reportedly had marks on his neck from Barnes.

Bauer also said a previous incident in 2011 when Barnes was suspended for getting into a physical altercation with a student factored into her decision.

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

Barnes had undergone training from the New Jersey Association of School Resource Officers.

Union representative Jean Hovey said she plans to appeal the decision.

Read Next: 5 Students Injured in Knife Attack at Utah High School

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo