Like many others, I was horrified by the news report of a Louisiana teacher who was removed from a school board meeting and subsequently arrested earlier this week for merely questioning a proposal to give a new contract with a pay raise to the superintendent. The teacher, Deyshia Hargrave, teaches Language Arts at Rene A. Rost Middle School in Kaplan, in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana.
“I have a serious issue with a superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise,” the teacher told her school board. “I feel like it’s a slap in the face for the teachers, the cafeteria workers or any other support staff we have.” When the school board objected to Deyshia’s comments and called the marshal to escort her from the room, the teacher voluntarily left. But in the hallway, the marshal put her under arrest and handcuffed her. The action shocked those in attendance at the meeting, many of whom had been expressing support for the courageous teacher.
The Times-Picayne reported that the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (ACLU) is concerned about the arrest. “Deyshia Hargrave’s expulsion from a public meeting and subsequent arrest are unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns,” the news outlet quoted from an email sent to them by the organization (see Times-Picayune).
As a biographer of America’s chalkboard champions, I have often asked questions about what teachers can do in highly charged social or political situations. I have written about many examples of teachers who have gone above and beyond to support causes of importance, sometimes at their own peril. In this case, the teacher was merely exercising her Constitutional rights. She was doing this is a respectful manner at an open community meeting. No wonder the onlookers were shocked, and the ACLU is concerned, for if educators are expected to instruct our students about the workings of a democratic society, they must not be punished when they themselves participate in the democratic process. The school board, and the marshal, owe this particular chalkboard champion a huge apology
To read more and view videos about this incident, click on this link by NBC News: Louisiana Teacher Handcuffed, Arrested.