A teacher in Louisiana was arrested at a School Board meeting this week for the crime of... questioning the School Board.
Deyshia Hargrave’s arrest has attracted widespread outrage on social media. The 12-minute video shows the teacher being shoved to the floor and dragged from the meeting in handcuffs. Watch the video below.
This meeting was contentious as the Board was discussing a new contract for the district’s Superintendent — a contract that included a $30,000 raise. Deyshia Hargrave made the case that the Board should not approve the contract because the district’s teachers had been denied raises for years.
Ms. Hargrave had the crowd’s support, but nevertheless, the Board voted 5-3 to approve Superintendent Jerome Puyau contract, ignoring the aspect of the raise in the process. Ms. Hargrave pressed further, and demanded to know why Puyau would accept a raise while the teachers received nothing. But, the Board President — Anthony Fontana — wasn’t interested in letting Ms. Hargrave speak.
After an uncomfortable standoff, Ms. Hargrave agrees to leave. Then, as soon as she’s out the door, Ms. Hargrave is arrested. She was removed for “disruption” even though she was doing nothing but speaking calmly the entire time.
Comments on the video of Ms. Hargrave's arrest have been firmly on her side. And, on Tuesday morning, the Louisiana Association of Educators issued a statement in support.
The incident also garnered the attention of the ACLU.
Deyshia Hargrave's expulsion from a public meeting and subsequent arrest are unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns. 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 of Louisiana will continue to investigate this incident and defend the constitutional rights of all Louisianans. We urge anyone whose rights have been violated to contact us.
In interviews the next day, Board President Anthony Fontana defended the arrest.
If a teacher has the authority to send a student, who is acting up and she can't control, out of the classroom to the principal's office, under our policy we have the same rules. We have certain rules: three-minute speech, it has to be civilized, it can't get off target, it has to be related to the issue before the board. That's not what was happening last night.
When asked if the handcuffing was necessary, Fontana said this about the officer.
He did exactly what he was hired to do. He followed the procedures completely. She's the one who made the choices that got her arrested.
It turns out, the Marshall who arrested her is a school resource officer. He’s employed by the School Board and was not acting in any official capacity on behalf of law enforcement. In fact, the city attorney and prosecutor told reporters he won’t be prosecuting the teacher. He said neither he or the School Board wish to pursue any charges.
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