Teacher removed, arrested after speaking out at Vermilion Parish school board meeting

A Vermilion Parish middle school teacher was removed and subsequently arrested after speaking out during a school board meeting Monday night, according to a report from KATC-TV.

During the meeting, the board voted to renew Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s contract for three years. He received a slight pay increase over his previous contract. The new contract includes incentives for additional pay raises based on his performance. 

Deyshia Hargrave, an English teacher at Rene Rost Middle School, addressed the school board during the public comment portion of the meeting, speaking out against the pay raises.

“A superintendent, or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise, I feel like is a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers, and other support staff we have,” Hargrave told the board.

Hargrave reportedly asked the board several questions and was ruled “out of order” by school board president Anthony Fontana. He warned Hargrave that the public comment section was not a question and answer session, according to KATC.

When Hargrave was called on for the second time and posed another question she was approached by an Abbeville city marshal. The marshal then removed her from the meeting.

The marshal handcuffed Hargrave while she was leaving the building and a brief struggle ensued as Hargrave screamed on the floor while the marshal tried to gain control of her.

“What are you doing? Are you kidding me?” Hargrave screamed.

“Stop resisting,” the marshal said.

“I am not! You just pushed me to the floor!” Hargrave screamed.

Superintendent Puyau told KATC Monday night that the school board would not be filing charges against the teacher. When asked by WAFB for comment Tuesday morning, Payou declined to comment on the incident.

9News has learned that Hargrave was arrested by the Abbeville city marshal on charges of remaining after being forbidden and resisting an officer. She was booked into the Abbeville Police Department and bonded out, according to Lt. David Hardy. 

KATC reported it was unclear if the marshal was instructed by the board to remove Hargrave or decided to it on his own accord.

After Hargrave was removed, Vermilion Parish School Board Member Laura LeBeouf addressed the board saying, “What happened here tonight, the way that females are treated in Vermilion Parish. I have never seen a man removed from this room.”

"I really did not find the behavior to be that disruptive," LeBeouf told 9News. "She was addressed by the board." 

Requests to school board president Anthony Fontana and the Abbeville City Marshal’s Office were not immediately returned.  

The ACLU of Louisiana released a statement Tuesday afternoon, condemning the arrest of Hargrave. The statement reads:

Deyshia Hargrave’s expulsion from a public meeting and subsequent arrest are unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns. 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. 

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.


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