A Louisiana school teacher was arrested Monday night after raising concerns about the pay school staff receive.
Deyshia Hargrave, who teaches English language arts at Rene Rost Middle School in Kaplan, was attending a school board meeting where the superintendent’s contract — including his pay raise — was being voted on, when she decided to speak out during the event’s public comments section, according to Fox News.
Hargrave stood to give her opinion, which included her asking why the superintendent was receiving a raise while the teachers haven’t received one in years.
“I have a serious issue with a superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise,” Hargrave said. “I feel like it’s a slap in the face to all teachers, all of the cafeteria workers, and any other support staff we have.”
Hargrave’s comments were met with a reprimand from certain members of the board, who told her this was not a “question-and-answer” session.
However, Hargrave spoke up once more while the board voted, issuing the same concern on behalf of teachers.
“How are you going to take that money?” she asked. “It’s basically taking out of the pockets of teachers.”
“Stop right now,” an official said as he pounded a gavel. “That’s not germane to what’s on the agenda tonight.”
But some people in the crowd agreed with Hargrave and defended her, shouting, “Yes, it is!”
The outspoken teacher was ordered to leave the meeting immediately, and she calmly obliged. Yet, by the time she’d made it to the hallway, cameras were seen filming her arrest — a response many are not taking kindly to, including Hargrave’s colleagues.
Fellow teacher Leigha Briolo agrees with Hargrave, telling Newsweek about school teachers’ salaries, which usually start at an entry-level base pay of $39,458, even though the school district is reportedly among the highest-performing in all the state.
“The new pay scale is unsupportive of higher degrees, as well as cost of living in general,” Briolo admitted.
This isn’t the first time someone has been arrested for speaking out or questioning the school board during a meeting.
“When she realized she had to get out, she picked up her purse and walked out,” board member Laura Lebeouf told The Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that no men have ever been asked to leave — no matter their comments.
The board’s other female member also expressed similar concerns.
“No reason for anyone to be treated this way,” Sara Duplechain told the AP. “So far in 3 years, only women have been removed from board room meetings.”
Since the video’s circulation, the ACLU has called on the motives of the school board to be reviewed and an investigation to possibly take place.
“Deyshia Hargrave’s expulsion from a public meeting and subsequent arrest are unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns,” the ACLU said, stating that the Constitution prohibits the government from punishing and/or retaliating against citizens for expressing their views.
“The fact that a schoolteacher was arrested at a public meeting of the school board is especially troubling,” it added. “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.”
Hargrave was taken to the Abbeville City Jail and charged with resisting an officer and “remaining after being forbidden,” though she was later released on bond, according to the Daily Advertiser.
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