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Nelson: 'FUSD Wrong Not to Accommodate Teacher in Wheelchair on Field Trip'
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By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 2 months ago on
February 16, 2024

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FUSD Superintendent Bob Nelson says in video the district failed to accommodate a teacher who uses a wheelchair on a field trip.

Nelson says district is committed to inclusivity and has launched an investigation.

Fresno Unified also will engage in systemwide training to ensure incidents aren’t repeated, he said.


Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson on Thursday took the somewhat unprecedented step of issuing a 3-minute video apology for the district’s failure to properly accommodate a “valued” teacher who uses a wheelchair when the teacher accompanied students on a recent field trip.

But as to what exactly happened, Nelson said he wasn’t providing specific details to protect the teacher’s privacy.

In an interview with GV Wire on Thursday afternoon, Nelson said he made the video because failing to accommodate someone with disabilities is “a big deal” for him as the father of a son with disabilities. Whether it’s an employee who uses a wheelchair, or who has vision or hearing issues or other needs, the entire district should work toward making sure those needs are accommodated, he said.

“And we’re going to train people to make sure that it’s an area of equity that they attend to personally and individually,” he said. “We have to accommodate people’s exceptionality, there’s no question.”

Bob Nelson’s Apology and Message

Superintendent Bob Nelson’s Message 2-15-2024 from Fresno Unified on Vimeo.

‘Inclusivity’ Bus Didn’t Arrive

The district has an “inclusivity” bus that can accommodate people in wheelchairs or with mobility issues, but that bus didn’t come to the teacher’s school on the day of the field trip, Nelson said. Emails requesting that specific bus didn’t result in the bus being scheduled for that field trip, he said.

Nelson, speaking solemnly in the video, said he was offering sincere apologies to the teacher involved and the entire community for the undisclosed lapse, which he said was “unfortunately” not an isolated incident.

“This incident doesn’t align with our values as a district, which includes respect, dignity, love, and just treating the humans in our sphere as humans,” he said in the video, “Every single member of our staff deserves to be treated with the utmost consideration, and any lapse in accommodation falls short of that commitment.”

He acknowledged that labor unions have the “right and responsibility” to protect their members and pledged to work “hand in hand” as a team to address and resolve issues.

Manuel Bonilla, president of Fresno Teachers Association, did not immediately respond Thursday afternoon to a text message asking if the union has filed a lawsuit or a grievance over the incident.

Nelson said the district’s commitment to do better includes launching a “thorough” investigation to identify and hold accountable any mistakes that were made, “and there were some, without question.”

The district also is reaching out to a statewide disability rights organization to form a permanent partnership, Nelson said. In addition, Fresno Unified is committed to expanding training across all levels of the district, he said.

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Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
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

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