Report: Louisiana school board president resigns after teacher arrest, national outcry

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Anthony Fontana picture courtesy KATC

ABBEVILLE, La. — The president of the Vermilion Parish School Board has resigned after a board meeting in which a teacher was removed because she objected to a raise for the superintendent.  That’s according to the Abbeville Meridional.

Board President Anthony Fontana submitted a resignation letter to the south Louisiana newspaper, saying that his goal was to stay in office long enough to secure a new contract for Superintendent Jerome Puyau:

Over the course of the last two years many things have occurred that made me think long and hard about resigning my seat. However, I believed I owed it to our school system to end the single issue that raised its dirty head on each vote the Board took and that was a contract for the superintendent. I made a promise to several board members and to our system that I would stay in office until the superintendent received a contract. I kept my promise.

Fontana was Puyau’s biggest supporter on the board, and both he and Puyau have said the raise is merited because the schools have improved under his leadership.

But teacher Deyshia Hargrave questioned why Superintendent Puyau would be getting a $38,000 raise,  while the teachers would get nothing.  The video of Hargrave’s being forced out of the meeting and later handcuffed and arrested has made national headlines.  Watch the video of her arrest below:

“I have a serious issue with a superintendent or any person of leadership getting any type of raise,” Hargrave said in the meeting before she was told to leave.

“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 we have.”

Hargrave also expressed frustration that “performance goals” were cited as the reason for the raise-  when teachers are responsible for helping the school system reach those goals.

Although Hargrave was booked into the city jail on charges of “remaining where forbidden” and resisting an officer, the Abbeville city attorney said he would not pursue those charges.

In speaking to the media after the meeting, Fontana further infuriated Hargrave’s supporters when he referred to her as the “poor little woman” who was getting too much positive attention, while noting that he and Superintendent Puyau had received death threats.

Hargrave responded to the ordeal through a video provided by the Louisiana Association of Educators. Here’s her response: