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FUSD Pursuing Discipline Against 3 Bullard Students Involved with Racist Photo

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Fresno Unified students protest at district headquarters on Friday over racist social media posts. (GV Wire/Nancy Price)
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Fresno Unified School District spokeswoman Nikki Henry said Wednesday afternoon the district is “pursuing disciplinary action to the fullest extent possible” for all those involved in the now-infamous photo of a Bullard High student wearing what appears to be a representation of a Ku Klux Klan hood.

She confirmed that three students were involved with the photo, which was shot in the Bullard weight room last week. The students have not been publicly identified to protect their privacy.

“Discipline is always a process,” Henry told GV Wire. “(The) Students involved and their families are aware of the course of disciplinary action being taken.”

Meanwhile, the district is continuing its investigation to determine whether there was any additional student and/or staff involvement, she said.

What’s unclear so far is whether a Bullard staffer was supervising the students in the weight room when the photo was taken.

Photo Sparks Protests, Walkouts

The photo became a flashpoint last week for Black students at Bullard and across Fresno Unified as well as the city’s Black community, leading to a Friday afternoon walkout at high schools and a march by hundreds of students from Edison High School in southwest Fresno to the district’s downtown Education Center.

But while that photo has been widely shared, other photos have also surfaced that purportedly were posted by people connected to Bullard showing Black people in degrading and manipulated images. And since Friday, additional photos on social media have appeared that target Black students and staff at other Fresno Unified schools.

District officials including Superintendent Bob Nelson said last week they were confident that the Bullard photo was racially motivated. In it, a student is wearing a head covering that resembles a KKK hood, with a student who could be partly seen behind him appearing to lift part of the head covering into a point. A third student took the photo.

On Friday afternoon Nelson and others held a news conference at the Education Center, telling reporters and the assembled students that culturally destructive and racist actions and behaviors won’t be tolerated in the district.

Trustee Says District Has Covered Up Racial Intimidation

But Trustee Keshia Thomas on Monday accused district administrators of covering up past instances of racial intimidation, and she called on the district to form a special commission to investigate the district’s response, “specifically surrounding intimidation through white supremacy.”

Nelson confirmed to GV Wire on Monday afternoon that a Bullard employee was accused of using the n-word to students. The allegation appeared on an anonymous student poster at Friday afternoon’s walkout and rally at Bullard, and the district is following up on it, he said.

Bullard High was the focus of national news stories three years after social media posts appeared of a cheerleader in blackface and using the n-word. Thomas, a graduate of Bullard who represents the Edison region on the School Board, said Monday that while racist incidents are reported districtwide, Bullard has more than its share.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email