California ex-principal facing charges after video shows him pushing special needs student

By | September 10, 2022

A former Northern California elementary school principal is facing charges of cruelty to a minor after video surfaced of him appearing to shove a student to the ground.

In the video, former Wolters Elementary School Principal Brian Vollhardt can be seen pushing a student in the chest causing him to fall to the floor during breakfast time on June 7 in Fresno, California, KTVU-TV reported.

According to the Fresno Unified School District, Vollhardt and other staff members were interacting with an upset special needs student and the principal chose to “aggressively shove the student down” rather than “de-escalating the situation.”

The school district initiated the process to discipline Vollhardt at which point Vollhardt resigned and is no longer employed by the school. 

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School District Superintendent Bob Nelson called Vollhardt’s actions “repugnant” and “absolutely not tolerated at any level within Fresno Unified.”

The district says the incident has been reported to both police and Child Protective Services.

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Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama says the incident was reported to police on June 9 but he was made aware of the incident on September 6, nearly three months after it occurred.

“I can tell you as a police chief in this community, I have a real problem as to the way that this child was treated. As a parent of a 9-year-old kid, which is a very similar age to the victim in this case and who also suffers from anxiety and doesn’t always handle situations in the best way, it is troubling as to how somebody who is supposed to protect this child and provide support, treated them,” Balderrama said.

Vollhardt is scheduled to be arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of willful cruelty to a minor on September 26th.