A Louisiana teacher who was thrown out of a school board meeting Monday for challenging her superintendent’s pay raise said she may likely file a lawsuit.
After the school board approved a new three-year contract that raised Vermilion Schools Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s salary by about $30,000, Deyshia Hargrave raised her hand and asked why Puyau was getting a raise when teachers haven’t received a pay increase in 10 years. Vermilion Parish School Board President Anthony Fontana told her that her comment wasn’t relevant to the vote on the contract and tried to quiet her down by banging his gavel.
When Hargrave wouldn’t stop speaking, Fontana made a gesture off-camera to the officer Reggie Hilts, who interrupted the middle school English teacher and ordered her out. After she said she was going, the officer followed her into the hallway where a camera recorded her on the floor being handcuffed and complaining that the officer pushed her down.
Hargrave was taken to Abbeville jail and accused with one count of resisting an officer and one count of remaining after being prohibited. She bonded out soon afterward. There will be no charged pursued against her.
Hargrave said that Fontana should resign, but she didn’t recommend any kind of discipline for Hilts.
“He needs training,” she said. “Whether he needs to lose his job, I don’t know.”
Hilts hasn’t spoken publicly about the Hargrave’s arrest, but he has received support from others.
“He’s a very good guy, he’s a pastor, respectable citizen here, and is well-respected in the community,” Puyau told the AP. “Students and teachers love him.”
Alicia Lasalle, a teacher at the school where Hilts works as a resource officer, said Hilts has a good relationship with the students and teachers.
“I agree she should not have been arrested,” LaSalle said. “Personally, I don’t think he would have arrested her if it was up to him.”
Hargrave told NBC during an interview that she hopes the incident motivates others to get more involved in education.
“It’s sad that a woman has to be forcibly, violently removed from a board meeting for people to start caring,” she said. “I’m hoping for teachers, people outside of education to have a voice, show up – you don’t have to say anything, just show up.”
Hargrave has received a lot of support since the incident. The Louisiana Associations of Educators organized a rally for her Thursday. They yelled “Stand by Deyshia” and carried signs including one that said “Silence One #Hear Us ROAR!!”
“What happened to Deyshia concerns all of us because we know what happened to her could have easily have happened to any one of us,” said Suzanne Breaux, a special education teacher and president of the Vermilion Association of Educators.