ABBEVILLE, LA (KLFY/WCMH) – The president of a Louisiana school board said he stands by a school resource officer’s decision who removed and arrested a teacher who questioned the superintendent’s pay during a meeting.
During the public portion comment of the Vermilion Parish School Board’s meeting, English teacher Deyshia Hargrave spoke up.
“A superintendent or any person in leadership getting any type of raise: I feel like it’s a slap in the face for the teachers, the cafeteria workers or any other support staff we have,” Hargrave said to the school board in regards to Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s new contract.
Hargrave received a warning from the board that it was public comment only, not a question and answer session, according to KATC.
So when Hargrave was called on a second time, a city marshal stepped in and escorted her to the hallway. Shortly after, Hargrave was removed from the building in handcuffs.
Board president Anthony Fontana told WAFB he believes Hargrave was in the wrong.
“He (the school resource officer) 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,” he said to the station.
“This is not about the board, it’s about the teacher and everybody wants to side on the poor little woman who got thrown out,” Fontana was quoted as saying. “Well she made a choice. She could have walked out and nothing would have happened.”
He told KATC he believes the incident was “set up.”
Hargrave spoke at a rally Tuesday in front of a cheering crowd of supporters.
“Not only was I denied my First Amendment rights, I was treated with shocking disrespect,” she said, according to KLFY.
“I want them to see past the handcuffs in the arrest, and I want change to come from this,” said Hargrave.
That message was echoed by her colleagues at Rene Rost Middle School and other teachers who came out to show support.
“Today we are here to stand by her, and to call her friend, and to hope that all of this brings back some change. It’s been a long time coming,” said Jesica Riebel, a teacher at Rene Rost Middle School.
Hargrave pleaded for everyone who showed up at the rally to attend school board meetings, and to stand up for what they believe in.
“Today my heart is broken for many reasons, but my will is not. What happened to me should not dissuade others from speaking out and I hope and pray that my experience will empower you, my students, young women to know that they have a voice. Use it,” said Hargrave.
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