On Monday, at a Louisiana school board meeting, in what could potentially be described as an “egregious display of governmental overreach,” Deyshia Hargrave, an English languages arts teacher at Rene Rost Middle Schools in Kaplan, can be seen on video being physically handcuffed by an officer and escorted out of the building.
Apparently, Hargrave stood up from where she was seated in the audience and addressed the school board superintendent, Jerome Puyau, with a question regarding what he was going to do with his raise since teachers’ class sizes had increased and they had not received a raise.
Board president Anthony Fontana ruled Hargrave out of order after she posed several questions and informed her that the public comment section was not for posing questions.
Although, Puyau had reportedly recognized Hargrave, that didn’t prevent the officer from approaching her and asking her to leave or face arrest.
Raised voices could be heard on the video coming from the hallway, where Hargrave can be seen sitting on the floor and up against a wall.
The officer arresting her tells her to “Stop resisting,” after she is placed in handcuffs.
Hargrave can be heard responding to the officer and saying, “I am not – you just pushed me to the floor. Sir, hold on, I am way smaller than you.”
The teacher was subsequently arrested and booked into the jail for resisting arrest even though the school superintendent indicates he told the police he did not want to press charges.
On Tuesday, Ike Funderburk, Abbeville’s city attorney and prosecutor said:
“I have reviewed the video and I am not going to approve any charges against the teacher. I talked with the attorney for the school board, and they do not wish to pursue any charges against the teacher.”
Funderburk also said the marshal who arrested Hargrave is a school resource officer who is employed by the school board and was quick to point out that he “was not acting in any official capacity on behalf of the city of Abbeville.”
Board President Anthony Fontana said the officer did the right thing.
“He did exactly what he was hired to do. He followed the procedures completely. She’s the one who made the choices that got her arrested.”
The Louisiana Association of Educators who is representing Hargrave issued this statement:
“As an organization that advocates for the dedicated school employees of Louisiana, we firmly denounce the mistreatment of Ms. Hargrave, a loving parent and dedicated teacher serving the students of Vermilion Parish. It is every citizen’s right to speak up for their beliefs. Any action that infringes upon this right is unlawful and unacceptable.
We will continue to support the right of every single school employee to take an interest in, and ultimately stand up for, the best interests of their schools and their students.
Aside from these remarks, our association will honor Ms. Hargrave’s wishes and refrain from any additional comments at this time, as the case is ongoing.”
The ACLU of Louisiana also issued a statement, indicating that officer’s actions were “unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns.”
The ACLU further commented:
“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.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, the board approved a renewal of Puyau’s contract and he was given a raise from his current salary of $110,190 to $140,188, which is purportedly the first raise he has received since being hired in 2013.
The substantial raise was as a result of Puyau taking the district’s state ranking from a B to an A.
I wonder what grade Puyau and the rest of the school board will receive for their relationship with the district’s school teachers?
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