By KEVIN McGILL and GERALD HERBERT
ABBEVILLE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana teacher whose widely viewed
arrest at a school board meeting sparked online outrage has returned to
work even as fallout from the incident rages on.
Gov. John Bel
Edwards said he saw nothing on videos of Deshia Hargrave's arrest that
warranted her rough treatment. Meanwhile, the superintendent of
Vermilion Parish Schools said he, his staff and his family have received
Hargrave returned to the classroom Wednesday. The
local prosecutor said he won't pursue charges against Hargrave, who was
appalled by her treatment and grateful for support from students,
parents and others. A rally of support for the teacher was planned
taking away my voice they've taken away — or tried to take away — my
First Amendment rights to speak," Hargrave said in a video posted on the
Louisiana Association of Educators' Facebook page. "Go to your local
school board meetings," Hargrave said. "Speak out. Be vocal."
who is married to a teacher and gets support from teacher unions, said
he "didn't see anything that warranted that type of action."
Superintendent Jerome Puyau said the hate emails and phone calls began pouring in after videos spread.
stopped reading them because they're just so bad and disgusting," Puyau
said, at times struggling to compose himself in an interview with The
Associated Press. He said the school system offices went into temporary
lockdown, and his daughters had to delete threats on their social media.
turmoil follows the board's 5-3 vote Monday night approving a new
3-year contract raising Puyau's salary by roughly $30,000, to about
$140,000 annually, with incentive targets that could add 3 percent per
He said the raise matches what other school officials make in similar jobs.
a middle school English teacher, said she felt like she was
representing all teachers in the parish by questioning the raise, at a
time when teachers haven't received an increase in 10 years, despite
growing class sizes and other demands.
Video of the meeting shows
that Hargrave addressed the superintendent directly after raising her
hand to speak and being recognized. After a verbal exchange, school
board member Kibbie Pillette said Vermilion Parish School Board
President Anthony Fontana beckoned to a school resource officer hired by
the board, who confronted Hargrave, ordering her to get her things and
"I'm going," she said, making her way out. Moments later —
after briefly leaving the view of any cameras — she was on the hallway
floor with her hands behind her back, being handcuffed and complaining
that the officer was hurting her.
"Stop resisting," the marshal said, lifting Hargrave to her feet.
"I am not, you just pushed me to the floor," Hargrave said.
said he did not order Hargrave's removal or arrest. While refusing to
comment on details, Puyau made clear that he was unhappy with how things
"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."
Fontana did not return phone messages Wednesday.
McGill reported from New Orleans.
story has been corrected to show that Fontana's first name is Anthony
and that he is the Vermilion Parish School Board president.