On January 8, Louisiana teacher Deyshia Hargrave attended a
public meeting of the Vermillion Parish School Board. During the question and
answer part of the meeting, Hargrave asked why the Board raised the
Superintendent’s salary by $38,000. (For context, the Superintendent already
made over $100,000 a year - more than double the teachers’ salaries. The
district’s teachers and staff haven’t had a pay raise in 9 years.)
While Hargrave spoke, the School Board President John
Fontana ordered a deputy police marshal to intervene. The marshal asked her to
leave the room, and she complied. However, the deputy marshal followed her out
of the room, threw her to the ground, and took her out of the building in
This is no way to treat any constituent, let alone a teacher
who’s a former Teacher of the Year. There’s a solution to this problem: The
Superintendent should decline the raise, and give at least part of the additional
$38,000 back to the district so it can better compensate the staff. If the
Board wants the Superintendent to accept a raise, it should give a raise to
teachers and staff, too.
To Vermilion Parish Schools Superintendent:
To Superintendent Jerome Puyau:
Vermilion Parish teachers work hard every day to keep students safe and help them reach their full potential. As Superintendent, you’ve managed to turn around a struggling school district and started to see the signs of increasing student achievement.
You certainly deserve credit for improving the school district, but that credit must be shared with teachers and staff who actually work with students every single day. The Board wants to increase your pay by more than a third – don’t the teachers and staff deserve something, too?
Based on their abhorrent treatment of Ms. Deyshia Hargrave, it’s clear the Board does not want to answer for its decision. The Board doesn’t have basic respect for its teachers, but I hope that you do – because you can take an important step to make things right.
Mr. Puyau, I know how committed you are to ensuring that Vermilion Parish students get the best education possible, and to actively supporting district staff as they do their best work for students and their families. For this reason, I ask that you to donate your pay raise back to the school district to better compensate district employees. If you want to accept the raise, make your acceptance conditional: Tell the Board you won’t accept unless it also grants raises for high-performing faculty and staff. Standing with your employees will show them – and us – that you won’t stand for unjust treatment of your teachers and staff.