Teacher Handcuffed, Arrested After Questioning Superintendent's Pay Raise
On Monday, a Louisiana teacher stood up at a school board meeting and questioned why the district's superintendent was receiving a pay raise when teachers in the district had not gotten a raise in years. Within minutes, she was told to leave the room by a marshal, handcuffed while she was lying on the floor, and put into a police car.
The teacher has been identified by news outlets as Deyshia Hargrave, an English/language arts middle school teacher in the Vermilion school district in Abbeville, La. A 12-minute video posted on YouTube shows part of the school board meeting and her arrest.
At the meeting, the school board was considering the renewal of the superintendent's contract, which included a $38,000 raise, according to the news site WGNTV.
Hargrave stood up and said the raise was a "slap in the face" to teachers and other school support staff members. "At the top, that's not where kids learn, it's in the classroom. And those teachers, like myself, are not getting a dime from that, and that is unspeakable," she said.
After the board approved the raise, Hargrave raised her hand to speak again and the superintendent recognized her.
"How are you going to take a raise, when I first started teaching ELA, there was like 21 kids in a class and now there are 29 kids in a class ... and we have not gotten raises. How are you going to take that money, because it's basically taking our money ... " Hargrave said. She was then cut off by a school board member, who told her to stop bringing up the issue of teacher pay since it wasn't on the agenda.
Hargrave continued, speaking to the superintendent: "How are you taking the raise when you're basically taking from the teachers and employees under you, when you have class sizes that are that big? This directly speaks to what you have just voted on."
Then, the marshal approached her and told her to leave the room. "Is it against policy to stand?" Hargrave said, before the marshal tried to grab her arm.
Hargrave left the room—and then the video showed her on the floor, with the marshal handcuffing her. As he walked her outside, telling her to stop resisting, Hargrave cried out, "I am not—you just pushed me to the floor. I am way smaller than you."
According to KATC, the local ABC affiliate station, no charges will be filed against Hargrave, although she was booked into the city jail for "remaining after being forbidden" and "resisting an officer." The city attorney said he talked with the attorney for the school board, who said the board does not wish to pursue any charges against the teacher. The marshal who arrested her is an attorney for the school board, according to the news site.
According to the New York Times, Hargrave won a teacher of the year award at her school in 2016.
The state teachers' union, the Louisiana Association of Educators, released a statement condemning the arrest: "We firmly denounce the mistreatment of Ms. Hargrave, a loving parent and dedicated teacher serving the students of Vermilion Parish. It is every citizen's right to speak up for their beliefs. Any action that infringes upon this right is unlawful and unacceptable."
The ACLU of Louisiana is investigating the incident. "The Constitution prohibits the government from punishing or retaliating against people for expressing their views, and the fact that a schoolteacher was arrested at a public meeting of the school board is especially troubling," the ACLU's statement said.
Last year, several teachers in North Carolina were arrested for protesting the former governor's education policies.