LOUISIANA—A woman was thrown out of a school board meeting and forcibly handcuffed after protesting against a raise given to members of the board.
The incident began on January 8, when the Vermillion Parish School Board held its regular weekly meeting. Part-way through the board meeting, Superintendent Jerome Puyau brought up a $30,000 raise for himself that was discussed in a previous meeting. While Puyau spoke, Deyshia Hargrave, a middle school teacher sitting among a group of teachers listening and advising the board, raised her hand. Puyau called on her and she stood.
Hargrave protested against the raise, saying to Puyau “How are you going to take a raise,” and identifying in the past few years, many teachers have seen their class numbers rise.
“When I first started teaching ELA,” Hargrave said, “there was, like, 20, 21 kids in a class and now there’s 29 kids in a class…and we have not gotten raises.” Her voice became louder as she continued. “How are you going to take that money, because it’s basically taking out of the pockets of teachers.” She called the raise a “slap in the face” to teachers who had not seen raises in nearly a decade.
After some protest by Hargrave, as well as some of the other teachers, a security guard approached Hargrave and asked her to leave. After a short exchange, Hargrave relented and left.
According to Hargrave, after the guard escorted her out of the meeting room she asked him, “Why am I being asked to leave?”
“Before I finished the question, he cuffed my left hand, grabbed my right hand down and that’s when I was on the floor and I started yelling, ‘what are you doing?” she explained. She was dragged out of the building amidst protests from other teachers. Hargrave was later arrested for resisting the officer, but freed two days later.
After video of the incident went viral, Deyshia Hargrave spoke out to various news networks. She told NBC that she expected an apology, but had not received one. A rally was held a few days after she was released, and hundreds of locals came together to protest the school board and further support Hargrave.
Puyau spoke to NBC as well, stating that although “mistakes had been made,” the teachers and board members should have abided by the rules, noting that he fully supported the security officer.
As the superintendent of the Vermillion Parish School District, Puyau makes $110,000 each year. The proposed $30,000 raise would have added to this. He is paid less than other superintendents in the state, with the highest paid superintendent earning $262,000 per year.
According to the Louisiana Department of Education, most Louisiana teachers make only $48,000 a year. Teachers at the Vermillion Parish School District, like Deyshia Hargrave, make $47,000 a year.
The political crowdfunding platform Crowdpac has raised money for a seminar on January 30 in which people will help teachers or other local residents that are interested in running for one of the eight school board member positions once the elections begin in November 2018. The event is free and open to all, but RSVPs are required.