FRESNO (AP) – A school trustee in Fresno has resigned following demands from dozens of community members for him to step down after he made comments on social media they said were racist.

Central Unified School District Trustee Richard Atkins resigned Tuesday night during a school board meeting and said he would give the district a written statement on Wednesday, The Fresno Bee reported.

“I lost the faith and the trust in this community,” Atkins said. “I resign effective immediately. I wish the best for this community and district, and I am deeply, deeply, deeply sorry for any pain and sorrow I caused.”

Atkins posted to Facebook on Saturday that, “If you don’t love the country you live in then go back to the country you or your ancestors came from.”

Screenshots of the post were shared hundreds of times on social media. A petition calling for Atkins’ resignation collected more than 1,470 signatures.

Atkins posted a message apologizing on Sunday.

“I am truly sorry for my insensitive comment that I posted on Facebook last night,” the statement read. “It was not my intent to upset my community and I feel terribly that I have hurt so many of you by my insensitive comment.

Nearly 50 community members spoke out Tuesday night, calling for Atkins to step down.

A few people also spoke in support of Atkins.

Multiple board members denounced Atkins’ remarks.

“I was deeply offended and appalled by his comments. I was in fourth grade the first time that I was told by a teacher to go back to the country I came from because I engaged in a conversation with a classmate in Spanish,” Trustee Yesenia Carrillo said.

Superintendent Andrew Alvarado said the district received dozens of emails and calls from Central Unified community members and from people outside of the area and outside of California.

In January, the district launched off a multi-year diversity training for staff, Alvarado said. Central Unified could not continue the training in April because of the coronavirus, he said, but the district is still committed to it.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.


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