Fed-up Teacher Loses His Temper During Class, Now He’s Facing the Consequences

An art teacher in Michigan was having a hard time controlling his class. Losing his temper, he does the absolute worst thing a teacher should do in that situation. It ended up with one student in the emergency room. Now, this educator is facing more than a few punishments.

Thomas Barnes
Thomas Barnes lashed out after his class refused to settle down. Now, he’s lost everything. (Photo Credit:
NeONBRAND/Unsplash, The Herald-Palladium)

Thomas Barnes was an art teacher at Benton Harbor Charter School Academy. He has worked with children for over 18 years, teaching at various schools. But one day, earlier this month, he was faced with an unruly classroom.

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That’s pretty common these days. Students can be a handful. Teachers often struggle with maintaining an orderly classroom from time to time. But it’s up to the adult in the situation to keep his composure and find effective means of getting the students to settle down.

It seems like Barnes had woken up on the wrong side of the bed that day. Instead of keeping his cool, he lost it. A student kicked a chair in the back of the room. Mr. Barnes picked up the chair and threw it across the room.

That fleeting act of rage cost him everything. The chair hit an 11-year-old girl, sending her to the emergency room.

Now, Barnes is facing an end to his career and criminal charges.

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A former teacher who threw a chair in his classroom, hitting and injuring a student, pleaded guilty Monday morning to a misdemeanor assault charge.

Thomas Barnes, 49, was fired from his job as an art teacher at Benton Harbor Charter School Academy earlier this month after he lost his cool in class and threw a chair, hitting 11-year-old Antownisha Johnson in the head. Her parents took her to the hospital after school and she was diagnosed with a mild concussion, her mother has said. The mother said the child was sent home on the bus at the regular close of school that day.

Barnes was initially charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, a four-year felony, but in a deal reached with the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office, pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated assault, a one-year misdemeanor.

“I was trying to get a lesson going, and the class was unruly. Someone in the back kicked a chair, and I picked it up and threw it,” Barnes told Berrien County Trial Court Judge Angela Pasula. “I am just mortified that this happened. I’ve worked with children over 18 years and I would never intentionally harm a student. Children are gifts from God and should be nurtured. I am so sorry.” [Source: The Herald Palladium]

You have to wonder what motivated an 18-year veteran of education to lash out like this. The man had taught students for almost two decades. Surely, this was not the first time a class was acting out. Why did he suddenly react so terribly?

Maybe this wasn’t the first time. Perhaps he had a history of bad behavior, but it had previously gone unnoticed. Barnes’ lawyer claims that not the case. He provided the court with 14 letters from people who had nothing but praise for the teacher.

But why was this time any different? How could an experienced teacher blow his top and hurt a child? We might never know.

Barnes lost his job and faces various penalties from the court.

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Pasula said she saw nothing to indicate that Barnes intended to hurt anyone. She sentenced him to 9 months’ probation, fines and costs of $965 and 50 hours of community service. She also sentenced him to 30 days in jail, credit for two days served, to begin July 1, 2019, but to be suspended if he is doing everything required of him and the judge receives a positive recommendation from the Probation Department. As part of his probation, he cannot work at any job in which he would have authority over children. [Source: The Herald Palladium]

Because of one act of aggression, this man will most-likely never teach again. He will never be able to continue a career that he spent years building. There’s a lesson in that for all of us.