JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A security guard at Highlands Middle School on the Northside who is charged with child abuse involving a student told an investigator that he “had not received enough training” to deal with the situation, according to a police report.
Gregory Holmes, 32, has worked for the district for less than a year. A district spokeswoman said Holmes began his service to the district in April, resigned for personal reasons in August and was rehired in October.
Since his arrest, Holmes has been reassigned to what’s called “disciplinary surplus” status, which means he has no direct contact with students.
According to Holmes’ arrest report, he was called to help last Tuesday when a student was seen in a hallway during class time cursing at a female security member who was telling the student to go back to class.
School Dean Donald Taft said he told Holmes to stop the student from going to the cafeteria, and Holmes moved into the doorway to block the student. The dean said the student “defiantly walked toward the exit” and “locked up” with Holmes. The two grappled with their arms wrapped around each other and Holmes used a leg sweep to force the student to the floor, the dean said.
He said Holmes was on top of the student, who took a swing at Holmes, hitting him in the face. Holmes hit back. One witness described it as a punch, but Holmes said he did not have a closed fist when he struck the student, according to the report.
Holmes told the officer who interviewed him that he “had not received enough training to know how to handle a situation where he is confronted with a student who does not comply with instructions.”
The officer who wrote the report noted that school district policy does not allow civilian personnel to use physical force on students. News4Jax reached out to the school district about its policy and the training school security guards receive, we are still waiting on a response.
Both Holmes and the student said they did not want to press criminal charges.
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.
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 student.
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.
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."
Holmes is scheduled to be back in court March 5.