A fifth- and sixth-grade teacher whose arrest at a school board meeting in Louisiana drew nationwide attention said Wednesday she was appalled by her treatment and appealed to others to speak out.
Deyshia Hargrave stood up at a Vermilion Parish school board meeting on Monday to voice her objection to a proposed 27% raise for the school superintendent.
Hargrave was called on twice during the public session of the meeting. But video from CNN affiliate KATC shows that as she continued sharing her concerns, a city marshal hired by the school district escorted Hargrave out and handcuffed her in a hallway.
“By silencing my voice they’ve also taken away, or tried to take away, my First Amendment rights to speak. And I am appalled at this and you should be, too,” she says in a 2½ minute video posted Wednesday on the Facebook page of the Louisiana Association of Educators.
Hargrave, who teaches English Language Arts at Rene Rost Middle School, wants others to go to school board meetings and not be afraid to give their opinions.
“I’m hoping that you choose to speak out after seeing what happened to me and you don’t let it become an intimidation to you, you let it become your strength. Because it’s slowly becoming mine,” she says.
The teachers’ association said there will be a rally in Abbeville, where the board meeting was held, on Thursday afternoon.
“The arrest of middle school educator … Deyshia Hargrave is a chilling infringement on her rights but educators will not be silenced,” association President Debbie Meaux said. The group also encourage teachers to wear black on Thursday
‘What are you doing?’
Hargrave spoke Monday at a school board meeting.
“You’re making our job even more difficult,” she told the Vermilion Parish school board. “A superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise, I feel like it’s a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers, and any other support staff we have.”
The video recorded by KATC shows Hargrave screaming, “What are you doing?” at the marshal.
“Stop resisting,” he says.
“I’m am not! You just pushed me to the floor!” Hargrave yells as she’s forcibly led out of the building. “I am way smaller than you!”
Hargrave was booked into the Abbeville jail, accused of remaining after being forbidden and resisting an officer. She paid bail and was released.
It’s not clear if the marshal, hired as a resource officer to provide security, acted on his own or under the direction of a board member, KATC said. CNN has reached out to the city marshal’s office for comment.
School board member Laura LeBeouf expressed dismay after Hargrave was taken away.
“What happened here tonight — the way that females are treated in Vermilion Parish … I have never seen a man removed from this room,” LeBeouf said.
Ike Funderburk, Abbeville’s city attorney and prosecutor, told KATC he won’t be prosecuting the teacher.
“I have reviewed the video and I am not going to approve any charges against the teacher,” Funderburk said. “I talked with the attorney for the school board, and they do not wish to pursue any charges against the teacher.”
The school board ended up approving the raise for Superintendent Jerome Puyau, whose salary increased from $110,190 to $140,188, KATC reports.
Hargrave believes her right to free speech was violated and she is considering legal action, Brian Blackwell, attorney for the Louisiana Association of Educators, said Tuesday.