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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

California Principal Charged After Being Caught on Camera Shoving Autistic Student

"Any parents seeing this video know what I’m feeling right now," said the child's guardian.

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Former principal Brian Vollhardt shoves a special needs student.
Former principal Brian Vollhardt shoves a special needs student.
Photo: Fresno Unified School District and Fresno Police Dept

A former California principal is now facing criminal charges after he was caught on camera shoving a 9-year-old student with special needs.

Brian Vollhardt, former principal of Wolters Elementary School was charged with “cruelty to a child by endangering health” after a June 7 incident. In the now-viral video, which was released last week by the Fresno United School District and Fresno police, Vollhardt can be seen talking to the student, who is autistic, during breakfast in the school’s cafeteria. But when the student points his finger at Vollhardt’s face, things get violent, and the former principal is then seen violently shoving the student to the ground. In the arrest warrant, Vollhardt said the student “was yelling and getting in [his] face while making threats.”

The announcement of the charges came from Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Bob Nelson and Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama, who held a joint press conference on September 7. “There’s no excuse for repugnant behavior such as this,” said School District Superintendent Bob Nelson to the room full of reporters. “Instead of de-escalating the situation, which is what we’d expect of an educator in our system, the former principal aggressively shoves the student down instead,” he added.

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According to a statement by the child’s guardian to KFSN News, the school district sat on the surveillance footage for three months before sharing it with her. “You cannot put force to these kids like that. My son is autistic. Any parents seeing this video know what I’m feeling right now. My son was pushed with force by this principal who was supposed to protect him,” she said.

Brian Vollhardt resigned from his position after the incident after spending nearly 15 years in the Fresno United School District as a teacher and principal. His arraignment is scheduled for September 26.