The Louisiana teacher who was handcuffed and dragged out of school board meeting has spoken out
A Louisiana teacher went viral, and while it’s not for the reason she’d want it to be, she’s using her new platform to speak out. Deyshia Hargrave was arrested during a school board meeting for questioning the superintendent’s new pay raise. Although many people at the meeting appeared to agree with Hargrave, she was escorted out of the building in handcuffs. And because a YouTube video of the incident was posted on January 8th, Hargrave has become national news.
During the Vermilion Parish school board meeting, the board was voting on the contract for Superintendent Jerome Puyau. Hargrave, a fifth- and sixth-grade English language arts teacher in the Vermilion school district, stood up to question Puyau’s pay raise from $110,190 to $140,188. As NBC reports, the teachers in the district haven’t received a raise in close to a decade. Hargrave said the superintendent taking this raise was taking money away from the teachers and other school district employees under him.
"We're doing the work. The students are doing the work. At the top, that's not where kids learn — it's in the classroom. And those teachers, like myself, are not getting a dime from that and that is unspeakable," Hargrave said at the meeting.
You can watch the video of Hargrave’s comments during the school board meeting and her arrest below. It already has over 2.6 million views on YouTube.
While Hargrave was speaking to the superintendent, a security officer approached her and asked her to leave. She resisted but eventually left the meeting and went out to the hallway. Although the video doesn’t show what happened in between, the officer put Hargrave on the ground and handcuffed her before escorting her outside. As NPR reported, the officer was a deputy city marshal paid by the school board, who called for police backup to take Hargrave away.
Abbeville, Louisiana, is located in Vermillion Parish, and the Abbeville city attorney and prosecutor Ike Funderburk told the local ABC affiliate:
"I have reviewed the video and I am not going to approve any charges against the teacher. I had talked with the attorney for the school board, they do not wish to pursue any charges against the teacher."
Superintendent Puyau also came forward and told CBS, “I’m the superintendent, I’m to blame…I should have stood up, okay? That’s what you want to hear and it’s the truth, I should have stood up…Let her speak.”
That doesn’t change the fact that she was arrested at the school board meeting after stating her opinion in a civil manner. “I’m pretty upset that no one stopped it from happening,” Hargrave told NBC in an interview, which aired on January 10th.
But Hargrave is seeing an outpouring of support from her community because of the video, and she’s going to continue to fight for her cause. She was featured in a video posted on the Louisiana Association of Educators’ Facebook page, which where she said,
"By silencing my voice, they've also taken away — or trying to take away — my First Amendment rights to speak. And I'm appalled by this and you should be too."
“It’s sad that a woman has to be forcibly, violently removed from a board meeting for people to start caring,” Hargrave told NBC. Yet through this forceful act, Hargrave is encouraging others to speak up when they see something that’s wrong and is using her voice to advocate for her fellow school district employees. So something good could come of this after all.