A Fresno, California, principal has been put on paid administrative leave following an incident involving three Black teenagers in which he called them “ghetto” and “Section 8 people.”
After noticing the teens walking through his gated community, Fred Veenendaal, principal at Sunnyside High School, started harassing the young women and later attempted to get the police involved, Atlanta Black Star reported.
Kyra Schrubb and Bri’janae Lewis, both 17, walked through Veenendaal’s gated community with one of their friends to save time on their way to the store. Shortly after the principal noticed the teens, a heated interaction ensued, which, according to Veenendaal, prompted him to call the police.
Lewis, Schrubb and their friend pulled out their phones to record the incident. They say he harassed them.
In a clip of the incident, the girls said, “We didn’t even do nothing, so we recording you right now. You know that’s harassment, right?”
The video caught Veenendaal’s response to the girls.
“No, it’s not,” he said.
Later, while on the phone with police, Veenendaal referred to the teenagers as “Section 8 people” and “ghetto.” He also recorded the incident.
The high school principal’s gated community requires special access, which the girls had because a friend lives in the neighborhood. The clip also caught Veenendaal threatening the girls, explaining he’s on the gated community’s board of directors.
While speaking about what happened to KMPH, Schrubb said Veenendaal’s reaction to them walking through the neighborhood was disappointing and racist.
“You didn’t have to do all that; you didn’t have to racial profile for no reason,” she said. “I feel so bad because, like, as a Black woman, I should be able to walk, you know, and do, just walk peacefully without, you know, people being racist for no reason.”
Lewis added the principal should lose his job.
“Why would you even say some stuff like that? We’re minors,” she added. “I hope he gets fired. He gotta go.”
The teens reported police never arrived on the scene, and whether Veenendaal called them is unclear. In addition, Lewis, Schrubb and their friend were unaware of Veenendaal’s position at Sunnyside High School until after they posted clips of the incident on social media.
Fresno Unified School District addressed the incident and said it is looking into what happened, Atlanta Black Star reported.
“We are aware of the video circulating, and the district started an investigation into the matter early Monday. The labels used in the video do not align with the high standards we have for our Fresno Unified leaders and staff,” they wrote in a statement. “We want to assure our families that having respectful, inclusive, and loving adults serving in our school is of the utmost importance to Sunnyside and our district as a whole.”
According to district spokesperson Nikki Henry, Veenendaal is on paid administrative as the district conducts its investigation.