Fresno Unified employees call on district to better protect teachers, students

Fresno, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Teachers are calling on Fresno Unified School District officials to do more to protect teachers and students in the classroom.

“…Lack of proactive planning, lack of support, lack of communication, lack of follow-through..” are just a few issues Manuel Bonilla, the president of Fresno Teacher’s Association, says need to be addressed.

Officials have come under fire from teachers, saying in a statement a recent statement on safety from Superintendent Bob Nelson in response to the mass shooting in Uvalde is just a smoke screen.

“Teachers are really starting to get tired of what they feel are empty words,” Bonilla said.

A high school teacher in Fresno Unified shared an open letter to the district this week, describing a recent experience in which she claims a student with a history of violence was placed in her class and she was not made aware of his history, which allegedly includes a threat he made to kill people on campus with a knife.

Another portion of the post says: “Earlier this year, two other students of mine were suspended for violent attacks on other students in the bathrooms. These were not the fisticuffs of teens taking out their frustration with each other, these were reminiscent of jailhouse brawls with students ganging up and stomping and kicking another student when they are down on the ground, all caught on video two of her students were only suspended for two days after they violently attacked other students in the bathroom…”

Bonilla says teachers at Pyle Elementary are also asking for help after a recent incident involving a parent.

“A parent went on to campus during class time; verbally assaulted a teacher, physically threatened a teacher… All they got in response was an additional campus assistant for one day,” he said.

Bonilla says teachers don’t feel the district listens to them or follows up with teachers who experience these situations.

Fresno Unified responded with a statement on Thursday, saying, in part:

“First, there seems to be a narrative as if Fresno Unified does not take action and use student discipline, when in fact our district suspends and expels students at a higher rate than districts across the state. We are reviewing and updating our safety protocols with our principals and staff over the summer, piloting and implementing a new visitor management system that includes safety notifications for our schools this upcoming year, and on June 15th our board is considering a contract to begin bringing full -time school resource officers to our middle school.”

Bonilla said teachers feel overwhelmed.

“It feels like everything is always add, add, add to the plate of the teacher, to the point where we can’t do the thing that we’re supposed to do, and that is teach,” he said.

Fresno Unified listed some proposed investments that they plan on adding for the upcoming year which include: more campus safety assistants, more school psychologists, and more child welfare and attendance specialists.

The next school board meeting is June 15.

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