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Louisiana Schoolteacher Says She Might Sue After Being Silenced

— January 17, 2018

A Louisiana schoolteacher who was chucked out from a board meeting after questioning an official’s pay raise has said she’ll probably sue.

While Deyshia Hargarve didn’t say litigation was inevitable, she seemed unsurprisingly open the prospect of pursuing a lawsuit.

“We’ll see how it goes,” said the teacher, who was filmed being handcuffed and marched out of an ordinary school board meeting for questioning whether the superintendent deserved a pay raise. “But I clearly feel my First Amendment rights were violated, and I feel like, yeah, there will be a lawsuit filed for that.”

The Washington Post reports that, last Friday, over one-hundred protesters had gathered in Abbeville, LA, chanting “Stand by Deyshia” in support of the educator. Near tears, Hargrave thanked the gathered crowd, many of whom had braved a cold, light rain.

“I hope and pray my experience will empower you – my students, young women everywhere – to know that you have a voice,” she said. “Use it. Many, many women suffered tremendously and sacrificed greatly for us to have this voice […] And this is for the boys, too. You matter.”

According to an Associated Press interview, Hargrave said she thought Vermilion Parish School Board President Anthony Fontana ought to resign. But she didn’t offer any comment on whether action should be taken against Reggie Hilts, the deputy city marshal who’d walked her out of the board meeting.

“He needs training,” Hargrave said. “Whether he needs to lose his job, I don’t know.”

Both the local teachers’ union and the American Civil Liberties Union are investigating the oddball case.

The turmoil, writes the Post¸ came about after the school board voted 5-3 to raise Vermilion Schools Superintendent Jerome Puyau’s salary by $30,000 per year – giving Puyau and annual income of about $140,000. Incentive targets included in the raise could have netted the official an extra 3% of income.

Hargrave, who’d raised her hand at the meeting and waited to be called upon, asked why Puyau was being granted a raise while educators themselves hadn’t received one in 10 years.

While she was still speaking, Fontana banged a gavel, ordered her silent, and then directed Hilts to take her out of the room.

Asked by the Associated Press who bore the blame for the incident, Hargrave didn’t hesitate.

“Anthony Fontana,” she said.

Students and educators, including Superintendent Puyau, said Hilts shouldn’t be held responsible – most of them claimed he’s a well-liked figure in the educational community, often on hand to resolve disputes and hear complaints.

“I agree she should not have been arrested,” said second-year educator Alicia LaSalle. “Personally, I don’t think he would have arrested her if it was up to him.”

Puyau – who the Post reports has received threatening phone calls since the video went viral – said he’s not pleased with how the meeting played out.

“It was not good in any way,” he said. “We are a good community. It took everybody by surprise. I’m having a hard time with this, but we care about our teachers and our support staff.”


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