An Abbeville, LA, teacher voicing her opposition to a superintendent's salary increase was kicked out of a school board meeting on Jan. 8 and subsequently arrested. A video of the incident quickly went viral, raising concerns about the treatment of educators. Middle school English teacher Deyshia Hargrave is shown in the video being ejected from the board meeting after clashing with the school board over a contract renewal vote, then being handcuffed on the floor by a marshal and escorted from the building.
According to local news sources, Ms. Hargrave addressed the Vermilion Parish School Board to contest the renewal of superintendent Jerome Puyau's contract, which reportedly included a $30K raise. "I have a serious issue with a superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise," Hargrave, who won a teacher of the year award in 2016, told the board. "I feel like it is a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers, and any other support staff we have . . . we work very hard with very little to maintain the salaries that we have."
The New York Times asserts that local teachers like Hargrave have reportedly not seen a permanent pay raise in a decade, which is what prompted the English instructor to protest the renewal of Puyau's contract. "It's a sad, sad day to be a teacher in Vermilion Parish," she said in the meeting. "We are doing the work, the students are doing the work. At the top, that is not where kids learn. It is in the classroom, and those teachers like myself are not getting a dime from that. And that is unspeakable."
Vermilion Parish School Board President Anthony Fontana told local news that he supports the actions of the school resource officer who arrested Hargrave: "He followed the procedures completely. She's the one who made the choices that got her arrested."
But attendees of the board meeting and citizens viewing the video alike have voiced concerns about the First Amendment rights of public educators. Read the full story at The New York Times and watch the 12-minute video of the incident above.