Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has filed a lawsuit against members of the Vermilion Parish School Board, citing violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law after a teacher was removed from a meeting, handcuffed and arrested for speaking out against a pay raise for Vermilion parish Schools Superintendent Jerome Puyau.
According to the lawsuit, the arrest of teacher Deyshia Hargrave was the culmination of actions on the part of the board that caused “irreparable injury to the citizens present at the meeting by effectively excluding them from participation in the meeting and denying them the right to offer comment on matters of interest to the community as well as to students and employees of the school system.”
The lawsuit asks for all actions taken at the meeting — including a $30,000 raise for Puyau — be rescinded. It also asks that any members of the board found to have violated the Open Meeting Law be subject to penalties.
The maximum civil penalty that can be assessed for a violation of the law is $100 per violation, payable directly by the official found to have committed the violation.
Hargrave’s arrest and the viral video of the incident led to an outpouring of support for the teacher. Vermilion School Board President Anthony Fontana, named in the suit, has since resigned from the board.