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Fresno Principal Who Quit After Shoving Special Needs Student To The Ground Faces Charges

Fresno Principal Who Quit After Shoving Special Needs Student To The Ground Faces Charges
CBS47 KSEE24/YouTube

A former elementary school principal in Fresno, California, was charged with the misdemeanor of "cruelty to child by endangering health" for aggressively shoving an African American special needs student to the ground.

Surveillance footage of the incident, which occurred on June 7 and was released earlier this week by the Fresno Unified School District, showed former Wolters Elementary School Principal Brian Vollhardt violently pushing a 9-year-old to the ground in the school cafeteria.

It is unclear what prompted Vollhardt to respond with such force, but the clip shows the student gesturing and pointing toward him twice before being pushed to the ground.

There is no audio in the footage and the student's face has been blurred.

You can see a news report in the clip below.

Warning: physical violence.

FUSD Former school principal facing charges after allegedly attacking special needs

In a news conference on Wednesday, Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson told reporters:

"Instead of de-escalating the situation, which is what we expect of an educator in our system, the former principal chose to aggressively shove the student down instead."

The child's guardian, Ann Frank, told CNN affiliate KFSN that the case lingered until she complained about the lack of charges.

Frank said:

"You cannot put force to these kids like that."
"My son is autistic. Any parents seeing this video, they know what I'm feeling right now."
"My son was pushed with force by this principal who was supposed to protect him."

Vollhardt said the student "was yelling and getting in the principal/suspect's face" while making threats, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by KFSN.

Vollhardt self-reported the incident and was put on administrative leave on June 8 after the district was made aware of his behavior.

Nelson noted that the district also notified Fresno Police and Child Protective Services.

Before the district could complete an investigation, Vollhardt resigned.

He was later hired as a vice principal at Tranquility High School in the Golden Plains Unified School District (GPUSD).

Martin Marcias, the GPUSD Superintendent, said Vollhardt was placed on administrative leave after they found out about the June 7 incident on Wednesday.

A Fresno Unified Trustee told CBS47 this was not the first time Vollhardt had a confrontation with African Americans.

The trustee said Vollhardt pinned the same child to the ground for several minutes back in May.

Superintendent Nelson added at the press conference:

"Let me be very clear, unequivocal on this matter, that there is no excuse for repugnant behavior such as this."