Now the entire town is protesting on her behalf
A teacher in Louisiana thought that the school board needed to know that she and her fellow teachers were angry about the fact that the superintendent was being considered for a nearly $40,000 raise while they were given nothing. Her comments drew so much ire from some of the school board members that she was forced to leave the room. As she was leaving, she was cuffed and taken to jail.
Citizens of her town and people all over the nation are supporting her, saying that her rights were grossly violated.
Rene Rost Middle School language teacher Deyshia Hargrave attended a meeting to discuss the possibility of giving the school’s superintendent a raise. In the five years that Superintendent Puyau has worked with the school, their state ranking has gone from a B to an A.
Mr. Puyau started his position in 2013, making $110,190. The contract they were discussing would commit him to three more years, making $140,188.
At the meeting, however, Deyshia said that it wasn’t really his work or the work of the board that made that ranking improve. The teachers are the ones helping the students achieve better test scores, though they have not been awarded raises, despite having to take on more and more students per class.
When she was called upon to give comment on whether or not the superintendent should be awarded the contract, she explained that it didn’t seem fair to give a person in a position of leadership a hefty raise when the teachers received nothing.
“We work very hard with very little to maintain the salaries we have. I don’t care if the performance targets are met — you’re making our jobs even more difficult,” she said in front of the School Board President Anthony Fontana. “We’re meeting those goals, while someone in that position is getting a raise? It’s a sad, sad day to be a teacher.”
Cuffed and Collared
Deyshia — who won Teacher of the Year in 2016 — continued to say that his performance-based raise was a “slap in the face” to those who are actually working with the students, especially since more and more pressure is being placed on the teachers to perform.
“When I first started teaching there was like 20 kids in a class and now there are 29 kids in a class, and we have not have been given raises. How are you going to take that money? It’s basically taking it out of our pockets,” she questioned.
For her efforts, President Anthony Fontana shut her down, saying that she was out of order for her line of questioning. She was then approached by Abbeville City Marshal Reggie Hilts, who told her to take her things and go. She refused to abide by the order because she was still speaking, so he attempted to grab her.
Eventually, Deyshia left the crowded room on her own. As she walked out with the officer one step behind her, his hand on his handcuffs, someone commented, “This is the most disgraceful and distasteful thing I’ve ever seen.”
Once she went past the door, a scuffle ensued. It appeared as though Officer Hilts attempted to cuff Deyshia as she walked out, pushing her to ground in order to control her. After he commanded her to stop resisting, she yelled, “I am not, you just pushed me to the floor.”
He pulled her off the floor and harshly escorted her out of the building. Deyshia was arrested for remaining after being forbidden and resisting an officer, but bonded out later.
Superintendent Jerome Puyua won his contract, but he waited until after the vote to call the police and tell them that he didn’t want to press charges.
The video has shocked and disgusted so many people that the school board was placed on lock down due to the death threats they received. The Louisiana Association of Educators are representing Deyshia and are considering pressing charges against the school board.
In a statement, the association said: “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.”
The ACLU of Louisiana is also speaking out against what happened, saying that it was a crime against the teacher’s First Amendment rights. “Deyshia Hargrave’s expulsion from a public meeting and subsequent arrest are unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns,” they held. “The Constitution prohibits the government from punishing or retaliating against people for expressing their views.”
Not only is Deyshia being backed up by her fellow teachers and high-profile organizations, some of the school board members are speaking out against what occurred that night as well.
School board member Laura LeBeouf stated, “What happened here tonight — the way that females are treated in Vermilion Parish… I have never seen a man removed from this room.” Several women have been removed from such meetings over the past few years though.
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