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Louisiana Teacher Arrested at January 2018 Board Meeting Vindicated by Judge’s Ruling

November 20, 2018

On January 08, 2018, in a meeting of the Vermillion Parish (Louisiana) school board, teacher Deyshia Hargrave questioned board approval of a $38,000 pay raise for the district superintendent, Jerome Puyau.


Deyshia Hargrave

Within minutes of being told she must leave the meeting, Hargrave was forcibly thrown to the ground and arrested as she was in the hallway leaving the building by a school officer, Reggie Hilts, who has a history of using excessive force.

Puyau, who chose not to intervene in the situation, later admitted that he “should have stood up, okay?”

In March 2018, Louisiana attorney general Jeff Landry sued the Vermilion Parish School Board for creating a hostile atmosphere at its meeting.

Ten months following Hargrave’s terrible experience, on November 08, 2018, Louisiana judge David Smith of the 15th Judicial Court ruled that the Vermilion Parish School Board “violated open meetings law by not opening up comments prior to each agenda item.”


There is no indication in the evidence that Ms. Hargrave’s behavior was willfully disruptive. Ms. Hargrave addressed the board respectfully. She was not loud or disruptive. It is clear that the Vermilion Parish School Board violated the Open Meetings law by not allowing Ms. Hargrave to publicly comment on the agenda item “Public Concerns for the Superintendent.”

…The Court has wide discretion to remedy this injustice. At this time, the Court will issue an injunction directing the Board to strictly adhere to and abide by the Open Meetings Law and Board policy with respect to public comment at future meetings of the Board. All Action taken at the January 8th, 2018 special meeting of the board is null, void, and without legal effect. Further, the Court will award reasonable attorney fees and other costs of the litigation from the Vermilion Parish School Board to the Vermilion Board of Educators upon  presentation and review of itemized expenses and affidavits by the Vermilion Board of Educators.

Since the Vermilion Parish School Board voted at that January 08, 2018, meeting to grant Puyau that $38,000 pay raise, Smith’s ruling declares such a vote “null, void, and without legal effect.”

Congratulations to Hargrave for her long-overdue, legally-supported vindication.

Whether lawyers for the Vermilion Parish School Board choose to appeal remains to be seen. However, in choosing to appeal, the board only further damages its reputation with an incensed community. So, I suggest the board seriously consider the ramifications of such an appeal.



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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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  1. She is gutsy, and thanks for this report, Mercedes, from the literal frontlines of public education. .

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