Central Unified School District board member speaks out after controversial Facebook post

The Central Unified School District is addressing a controversial social media post from Richard Atkins, one of its board members.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Central Unified School District is addressing a controversial social media post from Richard Atkins, one of its board members.

The post left Shay Williams, parent of a Central Unified student, at a loss for words.

"At a time like this to come with something so racist, it completely caught me off guard," Williams said.

Saturday, Central Unified School District board member Richard Atkins who represents District 4, made a controversial post on Facebook reading, "If you don't love the country you live in, go back to the country you or your ancestors came from. I am sick of this (expletive)."

"Go back to where you came from? That there is unmistakably one of the racist things you could actually say, there is no coming back from that," Williams said.

Williams is involved with the school district and attended Central Unified from K-12. All of her children have followed in her footsteps, her most recent graduating last year.

"Should our kids start having to go to school and have to deal with this, what happens when, if it is okay for him, a teacher does the same thing?" Williams asked.

The school district and superintendent released a joint statement, reading in part, "We are aware of comments made by a Central Unified board member on his personal Facebook account Those comments do not represent the views and mission of the Central Unified School District."

Williams says it's not enough, and the District needs to do more.

"How do we trust who you are, if you continue to allow someone with such hateful thoughts and feelings to be a part of your board," Williams said.

The statement was followed by an apology from Atkins on Sunday.
He declined an interview with Action News, but released the following statement.

"I am truly sorry for my insensitive comment that I posted on Facebook last night. It was not my intent to upset my community and I feel terribly that I have hurt so many of you by my insensitive comment. I did not consider how my words have such an impact on the Central Unified School District community. I can assure you that I meant no harm. That does not change the fact that I made a huge error in judgments by my actions. I will work hard to make sure I am more considerate in the future and I hope that you can forgive me. Please note that I am truly apologetic for my actions."

Williams said Atkins needs to resign.

"We have to have more than just an apology, for the actions of what you have done, you have to take accountability at this point," she said.

Atkins was elected into his position, and his term expires in 2022.

Williams is now urging parents to send letters to the school district to prompt action.

Central Unified is having a virtual board meeting this Tuesday, and parents can register online to voice their concerns.
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