The schools superintendent stands by the decision to have the teacher taken away
'Stand by Deyshia,' educators chant in a rally for fellow teacher Deyshia Hargrave
A Louisiana superintendent says he’s received death threats after a teacher who criticized his proposed raise was sent to jail.
But Vermilion Parish Superintendent Jerome Puyau said he stands by the city marshal who removed the teacher from the public comment session of a school board meeting, CNN affiliate KATC reported.
“Our people know what to do, and when it happened, that person … that marshal acted in what we ask him to do,” Puyau told KATC.
Video of teacher Deyshia Hargrave getting handcuffed and arrested made international headlines Wednesday.
Deyshia Hargrave couldn’t believe her Louisiana school district’s superintendent was slated to get a raise while teachers like herself struggled. So she spoke up at a school board meeting.
“You’re making our job even more difficult,” Hargrave told the school board, according to video from KATC.
“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.”
Hargrave said teachers had not received a raise in years.
Public records show base salaries for Vermilion Parish teachers last year ranged from $39,458 to $58,658. The superintendent’s $30,000 raise is more than half of most teachers’ salaries.
As Hargrave continued sharing her concerns, a city marshal hired by the school district removed her from the meeting.
’I am way smaller than you!’
The video shows Hargrave screaming, “What are you doing?” at the marshal.
“What are you doing?” she screams 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, Louisiana, jail and then released on bond soon after, according to Abbeville police.
City attorney and prosecutor Ike Funderburk told KATC no charges will be pursued against the teacher.
’Poor little woman’
Hargrave’s ejection stoked a debate over gender equality, which intensified after school board president Tony Fontana called her a “poor little woman.”
“This is not about the board. It’s about the teacher, and everybody wants to side on the poor little woman who got thrown out,” Fontana told CNN affiliate WAFB. “Well she made a choice. She could have walked out and nothing would have happened.”
But 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.
“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 board member on the other side forgot that we banned the husband of one of the board members from coming back on board property because of acting out in an incident,” Fontana told KATC.
“So all this stuff about ‘this is a woman’s issue’ is BS.”
Superintendent on death threats: ‘Stay away’
The school board ended up approving the raise for Superintendent Jerome Puyau, whose salary increased from $110,190 to $140,188, KATC reports.
“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,” Meaux said.
Puyau has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment. But in an interview with KATC, he implored the those making threats to stop.
“Leave our community out, and our schools, and stay away,” he said.
Union president: Hargrave is a ‘heroine’
After bonding out of jail, Hargrave gave a video statement denouncing her treatment and thanking her supporters.
“By silencing my voice they’ve also taken away, or tried to take away, my First Amendment rights to speak,” Hargrave said in the video. “I am appalled at this, and you should be, too.”
“In 30 years I’ve never seen anything like this,” Blackwell told CNN. “This has certainly caused an outrage locally, nationally and internationally from comments I’ve been seeing.”
“What happened to Deyshia concerns all of us because we know what happened to her could have easily have happened to any one of us,” said Suzanne Breaux, a special education teacher and president of the Vermilion Association of Educators.
“Her mistreatment highlights the issues that educators face worldwide … Educators’ opinions are considered irrelevant and not germane to decisions being made about our students,” said Breaux.
Deborah Meaux, president of the state association, said Hargrave “spoke up. She called out an injustice.”
“Deyshia has become a heroine in the fight to be heard,” said Meaux.
Brian Blackwell, attorney for teachers’ union, said Hargrave is considering legal action. “In 30 years I’ve never seen anything like this,” Blackwell told CNN. “This has certainly caused an outrage locally, nationally and internationally.”
CNN’s Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report.