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Prosecutor dismisses charges against school administrators for delay in reporting chair throwing incident

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- Two administrators of the Benton Harbor Charter School Academy are no longer facing charges in connection with failure to timely report an incident where a teacher threw a chair in a classroom.

On November 6, Thomas Barnes threw a chair in an effort to regain control of his classroom. That chair struck and injured an 11-year-old student.

Barnes pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and his 30 day sentence was suspended and he will serve 9 months probation.

Principal Tim Harris, and Assistant Principal Ashley Smith were mandated reporters under Michigan's Child Protection Law. They were aware of the incident, but didn't report it to the Department of Health and Human Services on the day of the incident, the prosecutor's office said.

They were charged with failing to report child abuse, a misdemeanor.

After the administrators were charged, Choice Schools Associates, who runs Benton Harbor Charter School Academy and 13 other charger schools in Michigan, organized a symposium on December 5 regarding reporting child abuse.

A training was also held at the Benton Harbor Charter School Academy on December 7.

Because Choice Schools Associates has taken proactive steps to educate its employees on the law, the prosecutor's office has dismissed the charges against Harris and Smith.

The prosecutor's office says their delay did not hamper the investigation into Barnes and because they immediately placed him on suspension children were not at risk.

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