The arrest of Vermilion Parish schoolteacher Deyshia Hargrave, handcuffed and dragged away from Monday night’s Vermilion Parish School Board meeting, is making national news.
Since 2013, Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s leadership style has ruffled feathers among faculty as well as the school board members, including allegations of physical assaults between board members last year. But Monday night, the conflict rose to a whole new level.
After she spoke out against the board’s decision to approve a raise for Puyau, Hargrave, who was Rene Rost Middle School’s teacher of the year in 2016, was removed from the meeting and later arrested.
“I mean – I’ve never seen anything like this,” said board member Kibbie Pillete Tuesday afternoon. “It’s no secret that the Vermillion Parish School Board lacks unity. This is the worst board I have ever served on. You have grown adults that can’t sit down and reason.But what happened at Monday night’s meeting proved the school system may have issues that go beyond the board. What happend last night was deplorable.”
After the votes were in, with a 4-4 split in the ballots, the board approved a contract offer that gave Puyau a $38,000 a year raise and a new contract.
“At the top, that’s not where kids learn, it’s in the classroom,” Hargrave said to Puyau and the board after raising her hand to be recognized. “And those teachers like myself are not getting a dime.”
Other teachers spoke as well about increasing class size and stagnant pay rates for teachers. but when Hargrave continued to ask questions of the superintendent, a city marshal approached her and escorted her out of the meeting.
Once she was in the hallway, she was cuffed, then led from the building and placed in an Abbeville Police unit and transported to the city jail.
She was charged with resisting arrest and staying after being forbidden, but Abbeville city attorney Ike Funderburk says the charges will be dropped.
“I, as the city prosecutor, am going to decline filing any charges against the lady,” Funderburk said Tuesday.
Several agencies and teacher unions have spoken out in support of Hargrave. A social media groundswell of supporters has decried the action against Hargrave and callers have inundated the phone lines to the school board’s office Tuesday.
When interviewed Tuesday, Puyau refused to answer any questions related to the disruption at Monday night’s meeting or Hargrave’s arrest, directing all news outlets to VPSB President Anthony Fontana.