A school board meeting in Louisiana on Monday went downhill when teacher Deyshia Hargrave was handcuffed and violently removed after she asked about a pay raise for the superintendent. The incident, occuring in Vermillion Parish, Louisiana, was criticized as a "power trip" and "embarrassment" by observers on social media, among other things.
Hargrave, who teaches English at Rene A. Rost Middle School in Kaplan, stood up to ask about a boost in salary for her fellow teachers, along with questioning the superintendent's raise. In a video of the full meeting, Hargrave asked:
I have a serious issue with a superintendent or any person of leadership getting any type of raise. I feel like it's a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers and any other support staff we have. We work very hard with very little to maintain the salaries that we have. As I've been teaching in the last few years, I've seen class sizes grow enormously. [...] How are you going to take that money?
She added that the potential $38,000 raise for the superintendent was "basically taking out of the pocket of teachers." While the discussion was taking place, one of the school board members claimed that Hargrave's behavior was "out of order."
An Abbeville city marshal then told Hargrave to remove herself from the meeting. According to the video, while the marshal spoke with Hargrave, an unidentified woman in the background was heard saying, "This is the most disgraceful and distasteful thing I've ever seen." In the hallway, Hargrave was pushed to the floor as the marshal handcuffed her and escorted her out as she screamed in protest.
While speaking to the board members, Hargrave said that she disagreed with the board's decision to use poor "performance goals" against the teachers.
I just want to say I don't care if the performance targets were met, you're making our job even more difficult. We're jumping through hoops, and we're continuously, we're meeting those goals. ... At the top? That's not where kids learn. It's in the classrooms. And those teachers, like myself, are not getting a dime from that. And that is unspeakable.
After the altercation in the school board meeting, Hargrave was sent to jail on Monday night but released on Tuesday, according to Newsweek. The school board told local news station KATC that it does not plan to press any charges against Hargrave.
Meanwhile, Hargrave's friends have spoken up in support of the English teacher. One of her friends, Kyle Monceaux, told Newsweek:
I think it's mind-blowing that this situation got that out of hand. The teachers around this parish work non-stop pushing these kids and are not treated like they should. What you saw was the straw that broke the camel's back.
As Hargrave's story made the rounds on the internet, many observers have been loud and clear in their support. Not only have social media users taken notice of the incident, but newspapers also have issued their own takes. In an op-ed for New Orleans' Times-Picayune, columnist Jarvis DeBerry wrote about Hargrave and said that the incident was a blow to the collective spirit of teachers witnessing the arrest.
The Louisiana incident is also being compared to a similar event that took place last year in Utah. In September, a nurse named Alex Wubbels in Salt Lake City was shown being violently dragged away and arrested by a police officer for not allowing him to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient being treated at the time.
One thing is clear from both reports — whether in Louisiana or Utah, the general public opinion on unwarranted violence in such incidents is that of vociferous and unapologetic criticism.