This morning, Superintendent Bob Nelson, alongside Fresno Police Chief Balderrama, shared more information regarding an altercation between a former principal and a student. Superintendent shared that on the morning of June 7th, the former principal of Wolters Elementary School, Brian Vollhardt, joined a small group of students having their breakfast. The former principal and a couple of staff members were working with an upset student. Instead of de-escalating the situation, the former principal chose to aggressively shove the student down.
Before Superintendent Nelson shared a thirty-second clip of the disturbing event, he warned viewers of the graphic and potentially triggering footage to be shown. He shared that the student involved is physically okay and has been provided emotional supports as needed since this incident was reported. Superintendent expressed that there is absolutely no excuse for this appalling behavior and this conduct is not tolerated at Fresno Unified. Superintendent Nelson then shared the thirty second clip of footage captured in the cafeteria that morning.
Superintendent Nelson reiterated that the Fresno Unified School District does not tolerate this kind of conduct at any time and has no interest in retaining any employee who has engaged in such harmful behavior. He detailed the actions of the district, that as soon as the district became aware of this incident the following afternoon on June 8th, Mr. Vollhardt was placed on administrative leave and the district launched an investigation. The morning following, on June 9th, Human Resources reported the incident to both the Fresno Police Department and Child Protective Services.
Following an investigation, the district initiated the disciplinary process against Mr. Vollhardt, during which Mr. Vollhardt resigned and is no longer an employee of Fresno Unified School District. The district also reported to all the necessary state agencies.
Superintendent Nelson went on to share that the district has been working to support the student and family since the incident and have learned lessons along the way. Superintendent shared the district’s commitment to continue learning and working to do best by the student and the family. He acknowledged that this footage being made public will likely bring added stress and pain to the student and family and asked for the media and community’s help in respecting the privacy of the student and family.
Superintendent ended his remarks acknowledging the racial dynamics of this disturbing incident. He shared that while there has been no information to lead the district to believe this was a racially motivated altercation, the district is not blind to the fact that racial dynamics are always present. The district is also not blind to the fact that seeing this footage of a white principal aggressively shoving down a young African American boy is going to be triggering and potentially traumatizing, especially for our African American community. Superintendent offered support and encouraged students, families, and staff to reach out for help if they are struggling to process this footage. Superintendent Nelson then introduced Chief Paco Balderrama to discuss the Fresno Police Department’s investigation and subsequent charges submitted to the District Attorney.