Deyshia Hargrave, a 32-year-old English and language arts teacher at Rene A. Rost Middle School in Abbeville, addressed the school board while they were considering a vote to approve Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s contract with a $38,000 pay raise, WGNO reported.
She was later arrested and faced two charges of resisting an officer and remaining on premises after being forbidden, according to a police report sent to BuzzFeed News.
Ike Funderburk, Abbeville’s prosecutor and city attorney, told KATC-TV on Wednesday, that he won’t approve the charges against Hargrave after reviewing video of the incident.
Noting that class sizes had grown, Hargrave told the Vermillion Parish School Board that it was “unspeakable” and “absurd” that the superintendent was getting a raise “when teachers are working this hard, and not even getting a dime.”
“It’s a sad, sad day to be a teacher in Vermillion Parish,” Hargrave said.
She told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that the district had been carrying out teacher cutbacks and that staff members were being treated unprofessionally while facing increasing demands.
“It’s not fair that the little money we have is going to the top and not to the teachers and support staff,” she said. “It just didn’t seem right to me that the superintendent was getting a raise when no one else is getting one.”
Hargrave said that she had heard the superintendent was already making a salary of around $110,000.
She added that the superintendent was always getting credit for the teachers’ work and that his raise of $38,000 equaled the annual salary of a teacher, or two cafeteria workers, or two janitors.
During the meeting, her comments prompted board president Anthony Fontana to rule Hargrave out of order during the meeting, KATC reported. Hargrave, however, told BuzzFeed News she could not recall if he said so or not.
After the vote, Hargrave — who was recognized by the board — told them, “How are you taking the raise when you are basically taking from the teachers and the employees under you?”
As people in the audience agreed with Hargrave, Fontana banged his gavel multiple times and ordered Hargrave to stop talking because the raise “wasn’t on the agenda” — promoting several others in the meeting to disagree.
As Puyau began to directly address Hargrave’s concerns, the city marshal officer asked her to leave.
Hargrave told BuzzFeed News that she thought the officer was “confused” and did not understand the protocol at board meetings, where members in the audience are allowed to comment if they are recognized by the board.
“It’s something I have done before and never gotten escorted out, let alone arrested,” she said.
The board president, Fonanta, told KATC on Wednesday that Hargrave was not civilized and that he supported the marshal’s decision to “settle it down.”
“If a teacher has the authority to send a student, who is acting up and she can’t control, out of the classroom to the principal’s office, under our policy we have the same rules,” Fontana said. “We have certain rules: three minute speech, it has to be civilized, it can’t get off target, it has to be related to the issue before the board. That’s not what was happening last night.”
Fontana told the channel that the situation “escalated” in the hall but blamed Hargrave for her arrest saying, “She’s the one who made the choices that got her arrested.”
He said the school board office was locked down on Tuesday because of death threats.
The video shows Hargrave struggling with the officer and screaming, “What are you doing?” He tells her to “stop resisting,” to which she replies, “I am not — you just pushed me to the floor.”
Hargrave said that the officer handcuffed her left arm and she fell to the ground when he pulled her right arm back.
She said she was “clearly” not resisting his attempts to restrain her and kept telling him that he was taller than her.
It is unclear if the security officer was ordered by the school board to arrest Hargrave and remove her from the meeting. She said that the she kept tripping on the wet floor, but that the officer continued “dragging” her down the hallway.
The superintendent said that the board would not press charges against Hargrave, but Hargrave told BuzzFeed News she was charged and released on bond Monday night.
A spokesperson for the Abbeville Police Department told BuzzFeed News that they were not the agency that arrested her, but that she was booked in and bonded from there due to the location of her arrest. The department directed all other inquiries to the school board.
Hargrave was charged with resisting an officer and remaining on premises after being forbidden, according to the police report.
She was unclear about who had pressed the charges.
Hargrave’s school, Puyau, Fontana, and the city marshal’s office did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.