A Louisiana School Board was on lockdown Tuesday after receiving hundreds of death threats for arresting an English teacher who spoke up during a board meeting.
Last Monday, Vermilion Parish School Board held a board meeting for the sole purpose of voting on a new contract for their superintendent, Jerome Puyau. The contract the board was voting on offered an additional $38,000 on top of his previous $110,130 annual salary — a roughly 35% raise.
The average pay of a Vermilion Parish teacher is $47,041.
Deyshia Hargrave, a middle school English teacher in attendance at the meeting, protested the contract, saying it was “a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers,” and “any other support staff we have.”
Rather than allow Hargrave to speak her piece, the Board ordered an Abbeville City Marshal to remove Hargrave from the room. The marshal then arrested a protesting Hargrave and placed her in the back of a police car. The entire incident was caught on camera and quickly went viral.
Hargrave was charged with resisting arrest and “remaining after being forbidden.” She’s currently released on bond.
Board President Anthony Fontana told KPEL News that she was arrested for violating board policy for speaking for longer than three minutes on an item not on the agenda. “We have rules to follow. We have to have orderly meetings, and if she can’t do that, she needs to be removed.”
After the video hit YouTube, the school board began receiving death threats for their handling of the situation with some coming from as far away Australia.
Threats have also been made against Superintendent Puyau. “You will die, people in your district will die,” Puyau told WBIR. “The threats to my family – to my children, my wife, but they’ve actually entered into their Facebook pages and sent threats to them.”
Responding to the incident, Hargrave took to YouTube on Wednesday to say her First Amendment rights had been violated when she was removed from the board meeting on Monday.
“This particular issue directly involved me, directly involved my students, my fellow educators, support staff, cafeteria workers, citizens outside of the school system even. So I chose to speak out.
“By silencing my voice they have also taken away, or tried to take away, my First Amendment rights to speak, and I’m appalled at this and you should be, too,” Hargrave said.
The ACLU issued a statement condemning the arrest and that they are investigating the incident.
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