Fresno Deputies Respond to Raucous Board Meeting at West Park Elementary

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Department responded to a disturbance outside a West Park Elementary School Board meeting on Monday after screaming matches between parents and members of the school board began turning violent, resulting in at least two physical altercations.

West Park Elementary has been at the center of controversy for months.

“Dozens of employees have left the district since September amid disagreements over the district’s operation from the classroom level to the superintendent’s office, which has been occupied by three people since December,” the Fresno Bee reports

At Monday’s board meeting in the school cafeteria, parents demanded answers about teacher turnover, the firing of two superintendents, and the loss of one-third of district staff. One parent said her child had gone through three teachers during the single academic year.

The meeting turned ugly when a parent walked up to Juan Benavidez, the husband of board Trustee Anna Benavidez, after he had told agitated members of the crowd to be quiet. The parent got in Benavidez’s face and then grabbed his arm, sparking an altercation that fortunately ended when Benavidez pulled away. Benavidez then called his granddaughter who arrived at the school. A physical altercation ensued outside between Benavidez’s granddaughter and the woman who had grabbed Benavidez’s arm.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, no one was arrested and both sides declined to press charges. In interviews with the Bee, each side blamed the other for starting the fight.


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