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Louisiana Teacher Arrested at School Board Meeting After Questioning Pay Policies

A middle school English teacher was handcuffed and placed in a police car after objecting to the superintendent’s contract during a school board meeting in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana.
teacher arrested
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Deyshia Hargrave stood up at the meeting and asked why the superintendent was getting a raise when teachers were not.

Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s new contract will raise his annual pay from around $110,000 to over $140,000, according to NPR. Average pay for teachers in Louisiana hovers around $49,000 per year. A school board member noted in a subsequent interview that teachers in the school district have not received a permanent raise in 10 years.

“I have a serious issue with a superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise,” Hargrave said at the meeting. “I feel like it is a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers and any other support staff we have.”

She was then removed from the room by a marshal and arrested, according to a report from The New York Times. The arrest was captured on video by local TV station KATC-TV.

On the video, Hargrave can be heard asking the marshal, “What are you doing?” The marshal replies, “Stop resisting.” Hargrave says, “I am not! You just pushed me to the floor.”

Per The Times:

Ms. Hargrave was arrested for allegedly “remaining after having been forbidden” and “resisting an officer,” Ike Funderburk, Abbeville’s city attorney and prosecutor, said in an interview on Tuesday night. But he said that after reviewing the now-viral video, he decided not to pursue charges against the teacher. A lawyer for the school board also did not wish to proceed with charges, he added.

Funderburk said, “I have been to hundreds of school board meetings and I saw nothing from her conduct that was different from any of the others I have seen. I concluded there was no criminal activity on her part.”

He also said that the marshal was “not acting in any official capacity on behalf of the city of Abbeville.” Abbeville is the parish seat.

Different Treatment for Women?

Two board members told The Associated Press that the board treats women unfairly. Board member Laura LeBeouf told The AP that women have been removed several times from meetings, while in similar circumstances, men have not.

“When she realized she had to get out, she picked up her purse and walked out,” LeBeouf said. “Women in this parish are not getting the same treatment.”

“Deyshia Hargrave’s expulsion from a public meeting and subsequent arrest are unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns,” said ACLU of Louisiana Interim Executive Director Jane Johnson, in a statement. “The Constitution prohibits the government from punishing or retaliating against people for expressing their views, and the fact that a schoolteacher was arrested at a public meeting of the school board is especially troubling. The ACLU of Louisiana will continue to investigate this incident and defend the constitutional rights of all Louisianans. We urge anyone whose rights have been violated to contact us.”

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