Abbeville City Marshal calls for independent investigation into - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Abbeville City Marshal calls for independent investigation into teacher’s arrest during board meeting

Deyshia Hargrave released a video statement on the Louisiana Association of Educators' Facebook page (Source: Facebook) Deyshia Hargrave released a video statement on the Louisiana Association of Educators' Facebook page (Source: Facebook)
Booking photo of Deyshia Hargrave (Source: Abbeville Police Department) Booking photo of Deyshia Hargrave (Source: Abbeville Police Department)
Source: KATC Source: KATC
KAPLAN, LA (WAFB) -

UPDATE: The head of a Louisiana law enforcement agency that is at the center of an incident that has since gained worldwide attention has now called for an independent investigation into the matter. 

An Abbeville city marshal removed and then arrested a teacher who was speaking out against pay raises for the superintendent of the Vermilion Parish during a school board meeting Monday night. The news release did not specify which if any law enforcement agency would investigate the matter. 

Abbeville City Marshal Jeremiah Bolde made the announced in a news release Thursday afternoon, the same day several teacher unions held a rally for Deyshia Hargrave in a town square. 

Bolde said his office would have no further comment until after the investigation was finished. 

ORIGINAL

A middle school English teacher from Abbeville, who gained worldwide attention earlier this week for being arrested after speaking out against a pay raise for the superintendent at a school board meeting, returned to the classroom Wednesday, according to Louisiana Association of Educators.

Deyshia Hargrave, who teaches at Rene Rost Middle School in Kaplan, was removed and subsequently arrested after speaking out during a school board meeting Monday night.

RELATED: Teacher arrested after speaking out at Vermilion Parish school board meeting

On Wednesday, the Louisiana Association of Educators released a video statement from Hargrave on their Facebook page. The video can be viewed below.

“By silencing my voice, they’ve also tried to take away my First Amendment Rights,” said Hargrave. The video can be viewed below.

 Video of Hargrave’s dramatic arrest circulated on social media and gained national and international media attention. It also sparked outrage on social media against the Vermilion Parish School Board.

Hargrave reportedly asked the board several questions and was ruled “out of order” by school board president, Anthony Fontana, who tells 9News he had warned her the public comment portion of the meeting was for comments, not questions. After attempting to ask one more question, a city marshal, who also serves as a resource officer, approached Hargrave and began attempting to remove her from the meeting. The marshal handcuffed Hargrave and video shows a brief struggle in the hallway outside the meeting as the educator screamed, demanding to know why she was being arrested.

“A superintendent, or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise, I feel like is a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers, and other support staff we have,” Hargrave told the board Monday night.

Hargrave reportedly asked the board several questions and was ruled “out of order” by school board president, Anthony Fontana, who tells 9News he had warned her the public comment portion of the meeting was for comments, not questions. After attempting to ask one more question, a city marshal, who also serves as a resource officer, approached Hargrave and began attempting to remove her from the meeting. The marshal handcuffed Hargrave and video shows a brief struggle in the hallway outside the meeting as the educator screamed, demanding to know why she was being arrested.

“What are you doing? Are you kidding me?” Hargrave screamed.

“Stop resisting,” the marshal said.

“I am not! You just pushed me to the floor!” Hargrave screamed.

Vermilion Parish Superintendent Jerome Puyau says the social media firestorm around the story has caused them to receive death threats at the school board office. “This is a toxic environment right now,” said Puyau.

Puyau said the death threats started small and indirect on Tuesday morning, but by the afternoon, he claims they have intensified.

“It’s now our secretaries picking up the phone and somebody saying ‘You’re going to die. You’re all going to die,’ and that’s bad,” Puyau added. 

Puyau maintains his belief that the officer and school board acted within their rights and that the arrest was never about silencing her voice, but following protocol. “She was not arrested for asking a question, straightforward,” said Puyau. “You have to follow the rules, though. You just have to.”

Another concern over the ordeal Puyau has is the part of the viral video that cuts out as the educator is asked to leave, then refocuses to show the teacher on the ground. “That’s what we cant see,” he said. “That’s where there are no cameras and I guess that’s my concern. Were her rights violated? I’m not sure. That’s going to be for the courts to decide.”

Until that question is answered, Governor John Bel Edwards also weighed in on the incident during his monthly radio show Wednesday afternoon, condemning it as unfortunate. “It should not have happened and it has cast a negative light on the state,” Edwards said.

Hargrave was booked into the Abbeville Police Department Monday night on charges of remaining after being forbidden and resisting an officer. She soon bonded out. The Abbeville city prosecutor said he would not file charges against Hargrave because the school board did not want to press charges.

A spokesperson for the Louisiana Association of Educators told WAFB that Hargrave is currently declining interviews with local media outlets until after her appearance on a major network news program Thursday morning. 

RELATED: Alleged death threats, social media firestorm ensue after teacher arrested during school board meeting

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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