VERMILION, Ohio –The Vermilion Police Department — on the border of Erie and Lorain counties in Ohio — has a simple message for everyone upset about the arrest of a teacher in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana: ‘Stop sending us your hate mail.”
The department posted the message on its Facebook page Wednesday.
The police department has been receiving hate messages since a school resource officer for the Vermilion Parish School Board in Louisiana arrested a middle school English teacher Monday night.
Video showed Deshia Hargrave being arrested after questioning a $30,000 raise given to the superintendent.
Video of the meeting showed that Hargrave addressed the superintendent directly after raising her hand to speak and being recognized. After a verbal exchange, school board member Kibbie Pillette said Vermilion Parish School Board President Anthony Fontana beckoned to a school resource officer hired by the board, who confronted Hargrave, ordering her to get her things and go.
“I’m going,” she said, making her way out. Moments later — after briefly leaving the view of any cameras — she was on the hallway floor with her hands behind her back, being handcuffed and complaining that the officer was hurting her.
“Stop resisting,” the marshal said, lifting Hargrave to her feet.
“I am not, you just pushed me to the floor,” Hargrave said.
Hargrave returned to the classroom on Wednesday after the local prosecutor said he wouldn’t pursue charges against the teacher.
“By taking away my voice they’ve taken away — or tried to take away — my First Amendment rights to speak,” Hargrave said in a video posted on the Louisiana Association of Educators’ Facebook page. “Go to your local school board meetings,” Hargrave said. “Speak out. Be vocal.”
Superintendent Jerome Puyau said his raise — which brings his annual salary to about $140,000 — matches what other school officials make in similar jobs.
Hargrave said teachers like her haven’t received an increase in 10 years, despite growing class sizes and other demands.
Puyau said the hate emails and phone calls began pouring into his office after the video of Hargrave’s arrest started to spread.
Fox 8 found several hateful messages on the Vermilion (Ohio) Police Department Facebook page.
The department’s request to stop sending hate mail to them has been shared nearly 200 times.
“As a resident of Vermilion Parish Louisiana I apologize that this is happening to your department and community,” Cheryl Trahan wrote in the comments of the Vermilion Police Department Facebook post. “That being said I hope it brings attention to the fact that we have serious issues with the school board President and Superintendent And we ask for prayer and support for the teacher involved in this unfortunate event.”
John Syrowski commended the department for the message. “Best response/post ever, VPD!” he wrote.