California: Former principal charged after pushing student with special needs to floor, authorities say

Earlier this week, the Fresno Unified School District released surveillance video of former Wolters Elementary School principal Brian Vollhardt pushing an unidentified 11-year-old student to the ground in June as he and d other staff worked with the “upset student”. “The video contains no sound and the student’s face has been blurred.

In the video, the student gestures towards Vollhardt and appears to point at him twice before the former principal shoves him. It is not known what led to the incident.

“Instead of defusing the situation, which is what we expect of an educator in our system, the former principal chose to aggressively push the student instead,” Superintendent Bob Nelson said at a press conference. Wednesday.

The child’s guardian, Ann Frank, told CNN affiliate KFSN the case remained at police headquarters until she complained about the lack of charges there. at two weeks. It took the school district three months to show her the video, she added.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by KFSN, Vollhardt said the student was “screaming and getting in the face of the principal/suspect” while making threats. Citing the ongoing investigation, police and the school district declined to comment on Vollhardt’s comments in the affidavit.

“You can’t force these kids like that,” Frank said in an interview with KFSN. “My son has autism. Any parent who sees this video knows how I feel right now. My son was forcefully pushed by this principal who was supposed to protect him.”

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderama acknowledged at the press conference that the system did not act quickly in the case.

“I found out about the incident two days ago. Around 3 p.m. Tuesday.” Balderrama said Thursday. “We have since gone back and reviewed our process for how these types of cases are handled. of our schools. That didn’t happen in this case.”

Nelson and Balderrama both said the principal’s actions were inexcusable, with Nelson adding that what the video shows is “disgusting”.

Vollhardt was placed on administrative leave June 8 after the district became aware of the incident, Nelson said. The district also notified Fresno police and child protective services, he added.

Vollhardt resigned before the district completed its investigation, Nelson said.

Vollhardt was later hired as vice-principal of the Golden Plains Unified School District. Martin Marcias, the school district superintendent, told CNN they were made aware of the June 7 incident on Wednesday and have since placed Vollhardt on administrative leave.

Roger Wilson, Vollhardt’s attorney, said he asked the district attorney’s office for more information and couldn’t make an informed statement about the incident until he was discovered by the district attorney’s office. In the meantime, he says he has scheduled a court date for Vollhardt, Wilson said.

According to Nelson, the student is doing well physically and has received emotional support.

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