The officials in Kaplan, Louisiana, handcuffed and arrested a teacher merely for questioning why a school district superintendent was getting a sudden 5-figure raise while the educators’ salaries remain stagnant.
The disturbing incident, which has since gone viral on the internet, took place during the Vermilion Parish School Board meeting after the members voted on the renewal of Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s contract, which would reportedly give him a $38,000 pay raise.
Given the fact that teachers in the district haven't seen a pay increase in a long time, Deyshia Hargrave, an English language arts teacher at Rene Rost Middle School, decided to stand up and call out the board over its hypocritical move.
The “Teacher of the Year” award-winning educator called the decision a “slap in the face” for her.
“We’re doing the work, the students are doing the work,” she told the board. “At the top, that’s not where kids learn. It’s in the classrooms. And those teachers, like myself, are not getting a dime from that, and that is unspeakable.”
Hargrave began directing her questions towards the superintendent, who gave no direct answers, as other audience members also begin to join in and voice their opinion.
The school board president, Anthony Fontana, then intervened and told the teacher her questions were not relevant to the meeting’s agenda. A few moments later, a city marshal approached the 32-year-old educator and asked her to leave the session.
“You are going to leave or I am going to remove you. Take your things and go,” the marshal told her, to which Hargrave responded by asking “Is it against policy to stand?”
The officer then tried to grab her as she told him to stop. Things went downhill from there.
The officer escorted the teacher from the meeting — a move that startled many in the audience.
“Stop resisting,” he told her as he walked her outside.
“I am not — you just pushed me to the floor,” she replied. “I am way smaller than you.”
The officer than placed handcuffs on her wrists, put her in a patrol car and took her to the Abbeville City Jail.
The entire incident was fortunately caught on video, drawing attention to the outrageous nature of this arrest.
While Hargrave was detained for allegedly “remaining after having been forbidden” and “resisting an officer,” the authorities and the lawyer for the school board decided not to proceed with the charges after seeing the video.
“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,” said Ike Funderburk, Abbeville’s city attorney and prosecutor. “I concluded there was no criminal activity on her part.”
Hargrave was later released on a $900 bail.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana issued a statement denouncing the teacher’s arrest.
“Deyshia Hargrave’s expulsion from a public meeting and subsequent arrest are unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns,” it read. “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.”
Since when has standing up for your rights become a crime in this country?
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Jim Young