A Louisiana teacher is not backing down after she was escorted out of a school board meeting in handcuffs for trying to ask a question about salaries.
Deyshia Hargrave, an English language arts teacher at Rene Rost Middle Schools in Vermilion Parish, and others were attending what appeared to be a heated school board meeting at the time of the incident. Hargrave attempted to ask how the superintendent, Jerome Puyau, was able to get a raise when the teachers hadn’t received one in years. She was ruled out of order after trying to ask her question twice, once during the public comments section and again when she was called on by the board.
A city marshal directed Hargrave out of the room into the hall, where he then pulled her to the floor while handcuffing her, which was caught on video. She was taken out of the building, where she was later booked and bonded.
On Wednesday evening, Hargrave appeared on “NBC Nightly News” to speak about the incident.
“I was seriously panicked. I’ve never been handcuffed in my life,” she said.
But panic isn’t the only feeling she had. Hargrave also expressed that she was “upset that no one stopped it from happening.”
Hargrave still stood by her inquiry into the superintendent’s $30,000 raise, as her fellow teachers had not seen a pay increase in a decade. She told NBC that Puyau’s raise felt like “a slap in the face to everyone that [she works] with every day.”
She also expressed concern about the way her students would feel about the video, but the wave of support she received since the incident has encouraged her to stand her ground.
“It’s sad that a woman has to be forcibly, violently removed from a board meeting for people to start caring.”
After video from the school board meeting went viral earlier in the week, the Abbeville Police Department issued a statement saying that they were not the authority responsible for her arrest. The police department directed all questions to the school board, which appeared to be split over the events.
Board President Anthony Fontana, who told Hargrave that she was out of order, insinuated that the entire incident was a “set up” designed to make the board look bad. Disagreement from other board members shed light on a major rift in the group.
Board member Laura LeBeouf stated that women have been removed in the past, but the same treatment was not extended to men who spoke out during meetings. She and board member Sara Duplechain voted against Puyau’s contract. Like LeBeouf, Duplechain noted that the only people to be removed from the board meetings were women.
“No reason for anyone to be treated this way. So far in three years, only women have been removed from board room meetings,” Duplechain said.
“When she realized she had to get out, she picked up her purse and walked out,” LeBeouf observed. “Women in this parish are not getting the same treatment.”
Ike Funderburk, Abbeville’s city attorney and prosecutor, explained that the city marshal who removed Hargrave is a school resource officer employed by the school board. He also said that he spoke with the school board and announced that there was no intention of pressing charges against the teacher.
A video of the incident, posted by KATC, can be seen below.