Teacher handcuff video leads to death threats, investigation

A Louisiana school board’s office was temporarily locked down after members received death threats when a video emerged Tuesday showing a teacher screaming while being handcuffed at a board meeting.

Vermilion Parish School Board President Anthony Fontana told The Advertiser the threats came from as far away as South America, Australia and England, as well as other U.S. states. He said the threats have been reported to local police and the FBI.

The threats came less than a day after middle school English teacher Deyshia Hargrave was forcibly removed from Monday night’s meeting. She was handcuffed and jailed after questioning pay policies – specifically a proposed raise for the superintendent – during a public comment period.


A video widely circulated by KATC-TV shows Hargrave complying with the city marshal’s order to leave the board meeting in Abbeville, west of New Orleans. It then cuts to Hargrave on the hallway floor, screaming as the marshal handcuffs her hands behind her back.

“Stop resisting,” the unidentified marshal is heard saying to Hargrave as he walks her toward the exit.

“I am not, you just pushed me to the floor,” the teacher responds.

Hargrave later bonded out of the Abbeville jail on charges of “remaining after being forbidden” and resisting an officer.

According to reports, Fontana ruled Hargrave “out of order” after she posed several questions though it was not a question-and-answer period.

The teacher was called upon a second time for comment and, after posing another question, it was then the marshal dismissed her, despite objections from the audience.

"She was recognized!" several people said.

"This is the most disgraceful and distasteful thing I have ever seen," another audience member said as Hargrave made her way out.

Fontana, who did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests for comments on Tuesday and Wednesday, said he stood by the officer “100 percent,” telling The Advertiser that he acted appropriately.

“His job is to make sure we have an orderly meeting,” Fontana said. “He knows what the law is. He knows what our policy is…The officer did exactly what he is supposed to do.”

He added to KATC-TV: "If a teacher has the authority to send a student, who is acting up and she can't control, out of the classroom to the principal's office, under our policy we have the same rules. We have certain rules: three minute speech, it has to be civilized, it can't get off target, it has to be related to the issue before the board. That's not what was happening [Monday] night."

The teacher’s union and the ACLU are investigating the incident and two board members complained the school board has a history of treating women unfairly.

"Deyshia Hargrave's expulsion from a public meeting and subsequent arrest are unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns," the ACLU said in an emailed news release.

Board member Laura LeBeouf told the Associated Press on Tuesday that women have several times been told to leave meetings, while men who speak out have not been removed.

“When she realized she had to get out, she picked up her purse and walked out,” she said. “Women in this parish are not getting the same treatment.”

The board's other female member expressed similar sentiments.

"No reason for anyone to be treated this way. So far in three years, only women have been removed from board room meetings," Sara Duplechain wrote in an emailed response to the Associated Press' questions.

At Monday night’s meeting, Hargrave spoke out against a proposed raise of $38,000 for Superintendent Jerome Puyau -- though the board hasn’t raised teacher salaries in more than a decade. The school board approved the raise despite complaints.

Puyau’s annual salary was raised to $148,811 from $110,130, which would put him at No. 32 out of 69 superintendents in Louisiana in terms of salary, he told The Advertiser.

Fontana, who is an attorney, told KATC-TV he thinks the whole thing was a “set up.”

"The other four board members, now three, have been committed to getting rid of the superintendent. No matter how good the policy might be, they would be against it to cast disfavor on the superintendent to prevent him from getting a contract," he said. "The whole issue, from day one, was that they were not going to give him a contract."

Puyau told media that the school system would not seek to have Hargrave prosecuted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.