School security guard charged with child abuse

A Florida security guard was charged with child abuse following a confrontation between him and a student at Highlands Middle School in Jacksonville, WJXT reports.

Gregory Holmes, 32, was taken into custody by the Duval County School Police Department on Feb. 13 after he an incident two days earlier, in which he scuffled with a student who had reportedly been trying to access the school’s cafeteria.

According to Holmes’ arrest report and the school’s dean, Donald Taft, Holmes had been called to assist a female security officer who had told the student to return to class. The unnamed student had allegedly cursed at the female officer before Holmes stepped in.

Holmes tried to block the doorway to the cafeteria before the student “defiantly walked toward the exit” and “locked up” with him, Taft said. The guard and the student then grappled with one another before Holmes used a leg sweep to force the student on the floor, the dean added.

Taft said the student then tried to swing at Holmes while Holmes was on top of him. According to the arrest report, one witness said Holmes struck back, although Holmes said he did not close his fist when it occurred. He also reportedly told an officer 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 said that school district policy forbids civilian personnel from using physical force on students, WJXT notes. Though neither Holmes nor the student wanted to press charges against each other, Holmes was ultimately charged with aggravated abuse and neglect of a child, according to the station. He was also reassigned to “disciplinary surplus” status, which prevents him from having any contact with students.

In a statement to parents, Kenyannya Wilcox, the principal of the middle school, acknowledged Holmes’ 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,” she said. “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.”

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