NEWARK-In October, after a year-long investigation of lax baggage screening at Newark Liberty International Airport, the Transportation Security Administration moved to fire 25 screeners and supervisors and suspend 19 others.

Today, after nearly six months of due process hearings involving the 44 screeners, the TSA announced that a total of four employees were dismissed, 32 were suspended, and six were exonerated. In the two other cases, one employee resigned before the hearing process played out, and another is still awaiting a final determination. While several of the proposed dismissals or suspensions were upheld during the hearing process, many ended up being downgraded, for example form a dismissal to a suspension, or from a lengthier suspension to a shorter one.

“Accountability is an important aspect of our work and TSA takes prompt and appropriate action with any employee who does not follow procedures or engages in misconduct,” Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman, said in a statement. “TSA can assure travelers that measures have been in place to ensure bags on flights out of Newark are properly screened since TSA first learned of this situation in December 2011.”

The dismissals and suspensions are the result of one of the biggest disciplinary actions the TSA has taken since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and targeted under-performing employees at a Newark Liberty, an airport with a history of high-profile security breaches. One of the planes hijacked on 9/11 took off from Newark.

Stacy Bodtmann, an official of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents the TSA’s 44,000 screeners nationwide, said the fact the overwhelming majority of proposed dismissals were not upheld was a vindication of the workforce.

“I’m very happy that they’ll be returning to work, and I still feel that they did nothing wrong,” said Bodtmann, who is also a screener at Newark Liberty. “The officers were doing their job according to the way they were trained to do it.”

The probe was sparked in the fall of 2011 by reports that items were being stolen from checked luggage in a baggage screening room inside Terminal B. But it soon broadened into an investigation into lax screening, led by the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA’s parent agency.

Using hidden security cameras during November and December 2011, the TSA said it caught dozens of screeners on tape failing to physically search bags that had been flagged during the X-ray process. Investigators also determined supervisors and managers had failed to ensure bags were searched.

Six screeners who faced dismissal were exonerated after they were found during the hearing process to have been misidentified. Farbstein declined to elaborate on how the misidentifications occurred.

The four employees whose dismissals were upheld were given pink slips this week, the TSA said. One employee facing termination chose to resign before the review process played out, the agency said.

None of the workers was identified.

All 19 of the originally proposed suspensions were upheld, although several were reduced, the TSA said. The main reason for the reduction in the proposed penalties was that the screeners’ conduct was found to have been unintentional, the TSA said.

The disciplined employees ranged from entry-level transportation screening officers, or TSOs, to the airport’s TSA leadership team under Federal Security Director Donald Drummer, who remains in charge. Drummer has presided over a performance crackdown at Newark Liberty since taking over in April 2011 amid low morale that followed a string of high-profile security breaches at the airport.

Since then, the TSA says it has implemented steps designed to improve performance: a supervisory mentoring program; explosive detection drills; and implementation of risk-based programs including PreCheck and Known Crew Member expedited screening programs.

The TSA said the six-month lag time between October, when the proposed disciplinary measures were announced, and this week’s word that final determinations had been made in all but one case was an indication of what the agency said was its “commitment to its due process procedures and demonstrates the agency’s dedication to treating employees in a fair and just manner.”

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