Principal Charged for Shoving Special Needs Child in Video

Francis Akhalbey September 12, 2022
Brian Vollhardt was videoed pushing a special needs student to the ground -- Image via the Fresno Bee

Authorities in Fresno have charged a former elementary school principal who was videoed shoving a 9-year-old special needs student to the ground after the minor approached him. According to NBC News, Brian Vollhardt resigned from his post as principal of Wolters Elementary School after an investigation into the June 7 incident was initiated by the school district. 

School officials and police on Thursday said Vollhardt has been charged with willful cruelty to a minor. “There’s no excuse for repugnant behavior such as this,” school district superintendent Bob Nelson said at a news conference.

Nelson said Vollhardt was with a group of students at the time of the incident. In the video, the student can be seen walking toward Vollhardt before pointing in his direction. The boy later walks away, but he goes toward Vollhardt again and points. The former principal is then seen shoving the minor to the ground.

“When you have a child that is special needs, 9-years-old, and in an environ where he should be supported and protected and that does not occur that constitutes a crime,” Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said.

Nelson said Vollhardt and other adults who witnessed the incident contacted the school district to notify them about what had occurred. He also said the boy’s guardian got in touch with the school.

“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,” said Nelson.

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