Louisiana teacher arrested after questioning superintendent pay raises at school board meeting
A Louisiana teacher was handcuffed and arrested during a school board meeting on Monday after questioning a pay raise included in a new contract for a board superintendent when teachers had not received a wage increase in years.
Deyshia Hargrave, an arts teacher at a Vermilion Parish school, addressed the board during the public comments portion of the meeting, claiming the raise for superintendent and board secretary-treasurer Jerome Puyau was unwarranted, especially because teachers had not received an increase in years.
“I have a serious issue with a superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise,” she said. “I feel like it’s a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers, any other support staff we have. We work very hard with very little to maintain the salaries that we have.”
Hargrave added that the raise was unwarranted, saying teachers and students have met their performance targets while class sizes have grown.
“As I have been teaching the last few years I have seen class sizes grow enormously,” Hargrave said. “We’re doing the work. The students are doing the work. At the top, that’s not where kids learn. It’s in the classrooms. And those teachers, like myself, are not getting a dime.”
Hargrave also accused the board of potential corruption in the appointment of another superintendent, J.B. Moreno, saying that a vote to elect him was never held.
Moreno was nominated by school board president Anthony Fontana last year to fill the vacant superintendent role after it was left empty following the retirement of a long-time school board member.
Local reports say Fontana was unfamiliar with the board and its members before the nomination, but his selection was made by Fontana in an effort to split a deadlock vote on approving the raise for Puyau.
“If [Moreno] wants to run and people put him in, then you do your contract and raises, or whatever you deem necessary,” she said. “I’m going to use the word ‘absurd,’ that we’re even considering giving [Puyau] a raise when these teachers are working this hard and not getting a dime,” she said.
Hargrave was called upon a second time for a statement, but ruled out of order by Fontana, explaining that the board was not taking questions.
That’s when a local police officer stepped in.
“You’re gonna leave, or I’m gonna remove you,” the officer said to Hargrave, before leading her from the meeting room under the protest of other teachers in attendance.
Moments later a scream from the hallway was heard and the teachers inside the boardroom reacted in astonishment.
“He’s putting her in handcuffs right now,” a man can be heard saying on a video taken from inside the meeting room.
Video recorded in the hallway appeared to show the unidentified Abbeville city marshal handcuffing Hargrave.
“What are you doing?” she is heard exclaiming in the video, as she was led away to a cruiser outside. “You just pushed me to the floor … I am way smaller than you!”
It remains unclear if the marshal was acting under the orders of the board members in attendance, or by his own accord.
Following Harvgrave’s removal, superintendent Laura LeBeouf addressed the board and the actions of the officer.
“What happened here tonight — the way that females are treated in Vermilion Parish — I have never seen a man removed from this room,” she said as people in attendance called the incident “terrible.”
Despite reports from KATC that Puyau told media that the school board would not file charges against Hargrave, the teacher was booked on charges of remaining while forbidden and resisting an officer.
Global News reached out to the Abbeville Marshal’s Office, but no one was unavailable for comment.