JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A school security guard at Highlands Middle School on the Northside was arrested Thursday on a child abuse charge stemming from an incident involving a student, Duval County Public Schools officials said.
Gregory Holmes, 32, was booked just before 10 a.m. Thursday into the Duval County jail, online jail records show. At his first appearance before a judge Friday, Holmes was ordered held on $25,003 bond on charges of aggravated abuse and neglect of a child. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim in the case.
According to the school district, the incident occurred Tuesday at Highlands Middle and Holmes left the school after it happened. School officials said Holmes went to the district’s administrative building Thursday to receive notification of his status as an employee and that’s when he was taken into custody by the Duval County School Police Department.
The principal of Highlands Middle sent a message to parents about the arrest.
“I am extremely disappointed to share this news with you, but I hope it demonstrates the extent we will go to protect our children. Please know that we will continue to work diligently to protect the welfare of our students and take decisive action anytime an incident like this happen in our district,” the message reads, in part.
“This is violence, bullying,” said Janice Madden.
She said two of her grandchildren, who are in the sixth grade at Highlands Middle School, talked about Holmes’ bad reputation of being overly aggressive.
“The kids are going, ‘He does that to everybody,’” she said.
She felt more needed to be done, expressing concern that school officials had heard complaints about Holmes before.
“Looks to me like you need to get a whole new system in the school because somebody is dropping the ball,” she said. “And kids are getting hurt.”
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said security guards must keep children under control but also remain calm and collected.
“Evidently there may be some physical evidence, there may be some corroborating evidence, by witnesses, but they have to of had some very good compelling evidence to make this arrest,” Jefferson noted.
As of Thursday, according to a DCPS spokeswoman, Holmes was still employed by the school district.
“If he is able to return to work, he will be reassigned under disciplinary status to a role with no student contact,” the spokeswoman said. “An administrative investigation will follow the criminal investigation."
He worked for the district for less than a year. The spokeswoman said Holmes began his service to the district in April, resigned for personal reasons in August and was rehired in October.
Holmes is scheduled to be back in court March 5. A woman, who appeared to be his wife, was at his Friday hearing but declined to comment.
News4Jax has requested Holmes’ personnel file from Duval County Public Schools, as well as a copy of his police report for more details about the allegations. A district representative said the request was being processed.