Former Fresno Unified principal charged with abusing student enters plea without court appearance

On June 7, surveillance video captured the moment when Brian Volhardt shoved the boy to the ground at Wolters Elementary.

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Monday, September 26, 2022
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The former Fresno Unified principal charged with child abuse and endangerment for shoving a 10-year-old student on campus made the boy's family even more upset Monday.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The former Fresno Unified principal charged with child abuse and endangerment for shoving a 10-year-old student on campus made the boy's family even more upset Monday.

Several members of the victim's family went to court Monday to see Brian Vollhardt enter a plea. They left the courthouse even more upset than when they got there.

Vollhardt is front and center in video from the Wolters Elementary School cafeteria. His shove led to a misdemeanor child abuse and endangerment charge against him three months later.

But you won't see Vollhardt in video from court.

When it came time to enter a plea, he was absent and let his attorney do it for him.

"Enter a plea of not guilty to the sole count on the complaint," said defense attorney Roger Wilson.

State law allows most misdemeanor defendants to avoid court and let their attorneys handle everything.

RELATED: Video released of incident between former Fresno Unified school principal and student

But Vollhardt's absence was one more strike against him in the eyes of the victim's family members.

"He's a coward," said Ann Frank, the boy's guardian. "That he still feels like he hasn't done anything. Why couldn't he be in court like everybody else is in court? Don't want to face anybody? Face up to what you did. You did it. It's a done deal. You did it. Now you need to pay the price."

Frank is the boy's guardian and she treats him like a son.

She and her family members say they want justice for the boy and they're starting to get a clear idea of how that would look.

"Justice would be him being charged with a felony not a misdemeanor," said Clarice Jones, the boy's aunt.

Vollhardt resigned as principal during the investigation into the June incident. But he quickly got a vice principal's job at Tranquillity High School.

Administrators there told Action News they didn't know about the allegations of violence, and they put him on administrative leave the same day we first asked about his status.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing website shows Vollhardt has an active credential and no adverse reports.

RELATED: Claim for damages filed after incident between former Fresno Unified principal and student

Community organizers supporting the victim say they're pushing for that to change.

"We're not going to stop until we get his credentials revoked," said community organizer Floyd Harris. "Because we don't want a child to go through what this mother is going through here."

Vollhardt faces no more than a year in jail if he's convicted.

His case is back in court next month.