Superintendent defends raise challenged by handcuffed teacher

A Louisiana school board is under fire after a teacher was forcibly removed from a board meeting after questioning the superintendent’s pay. Deyshia Hargrave was handcuffed and arrested by a city marshal Monday night in Abbeville. The middle school English teacher was booked on one count of resisting an officer and one count of remaining on premises after being forbidden. She later posted bond.

Superintendent Jerome Puyau is not commenting on Hargrave’s arrest, but is defending his raise, reports CBS News’ Vladimir Duthiers.

“It was time that we brought to the board a salary that’s commensurate with what superintendents are making,” Puyau said. 

Since 2012, Puyau has been making about $110,000 per year, according to two board members. With the new contract that was approved Monday, he could earn $38,000 more. In 2016, the average Louisiana teacher’s salary was around $49,000. 

The Vermilion Parish School board and the city prosecutor say they are not moving forward with charges against Hargrave, but many in the district still want to know why their colleague, a former teacher of the year, was arrested in the first place.

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Teacher Deyshia Hargrave speaks out about the superintendent’s pay at a Louisiana school board meeting. 

Just minutes after telling the Vermilion Parish School Board that teachers are scared of speaking out, Hargrave was arrested. At the board meeting Monday night, Hargrave had expressed frustration with the plan to give the superintendent a raise. A deputy city marshal stepped in to escort Hargrave out, but moments later, she is heard screaming from the hall.

“A superintendent or any person or getting any type of raise I feel like is a slap in the face to all the teachers,” Hargrave said.

Board member Laura Lebeouf says teachers in the district haven’t had a raise in a decade, and called the treatment of Hargrave disgusting.  

“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.

But board president Anthony Fontana is defending the city marshal’s actions.

“A board member was recognized and a board member’s getting ready to speak when she cut into him. That’s when the officer acted, and I think he acted properly,” Fontana said.

The city marshal was reportedly a school resource officer and not acting in any official capacity with the city of Abbeville. The ACLU of Louisiana says it is investigating the incident. Teachers in the district plan to hold a rally supporting her Thursday night.

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