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Central Unified Trustee Apologizes for ‘Go Back’ to Your Country Facebook Post

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Side by side images of the Central Unified School District logo and trustee Richard Atkins
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Central Unified trustee Richard Atkins is apologizing for a controversial Facebook post that has sparked a petition drive calling for his resignation.

Atkins declined Monday to discuss with GV Wire what prompted his post, which said, “If you don’t Love the Country you live in, then go back to the country you or your ancestors came from. I am SICK of this Shit.”

Richard Atkins was confronted with this screenshot under his public profile picture on his Facebook page for all to see….

Posted by Jennifer Saeko Brueggemann on Saturday, June 20, 2020

Comments Were ‘Insensitive’

After backlash to the post erupted, Atkins, who represents Area 4 in the southeast part of the district, subsequently released the following statement:

“Dear Community, I’m truly sorry for my insensitive comments that I posted on Facebook Saturday night. It was not my intention to upset my community and I feel terrible that I have hurt so many of you by my insensitive comments. I didn’t consider how my words have such an impact of the CUSD community. I can assure you that I meant no harm, that doesn’t change the fact that I really made a huge error in judgment by my actions. I will work hard to make sure that I am more considerate in the future, and I hope that you can forgive me. Please know that I am truly apologetic for my actions. Sincerely, Richard Atkins”

Atkins’ original Facebook post also prompted several statements from Central Unified officials. The first was a joint statement from Superintendent Andy Alvarado and board president Yesenia Z. Carrillo, saying that Atkins’ post “do not represent the views and mission” of the ethnically diverse district.

The following is a joint statement on Saturday, June 20, 2020, from Superintendent Andrew G. Alvarado and Board…

Posted by Central Unified School District on Saturday, June 20, 2020

On Sunday, Alvarado followed up with a second statement that affirmed the rich diversity of the district’s and community’s population and how highly valued they are by the district.

From the Office of the Superintendent:

We want you all to know how deeply saddened we are during these trying times. We…

Posted by Central Unified School District on Sunday, June 21, 2020

Critics to Atkins: Resign

But by Sunday, Atkins’ apology and the district’s statements about his Facebook post had prompted at least two petition drives on change.org seeking Atkins’ resignation. As of Monday afternoon, more than 2,400 people had signed a petition posted by Fresno Black Lives Matter, and about 1,100 had signed a petition posted by Diane Gallardo.

District residents also are being urged to speak out during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s Central Unified board meeting.

On Monday afternoon, the district announced that a special meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday to talk about Atkins’ Facebook post. The meeting, which is being held virtually, can be viewed on the district’s YouTube channel. The public call-in number is (559) 276-3150.

Atkins was first elected to the board in 2014. His current term ends in 2022.

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