No charges will be filed against a Vermilion Parish teacher who was arrested at a school board meeting last night.
Ike Funderburk, Abbeville’s city attorney and prosecutor, said he has reviewed the video and won’t be prosecuting her.
“I have reviewed the video and I am not going to approve any charges against the teacher,” Funderburk said. “I talked with the attorney for the school board, and they do not wish to pursue any charges against the teacher.”
Board President Anthony Fontana says 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,” said Fontana, who also is an attorney. “The whole issue, from day one, was that they were not going to give him a contract.”
Two board members, who have been at odds with Fontana over Puyau’s contract and other issues before the board, and even boycotted meetings last fall, told the AP that they think Hargrave’s treatment is related to the fact she’s female.
Women have several times been told to leave meetings, while men who speak out have not been removed, board member Laura LeBeouf, who voted against the superintendent’s contract at Monday’s meeting, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
“When she realized she had to get out, she picked up her purse and walked out,” LeBeouf said. “Women in this parish are not getting the same treatment.”
Board member Sara Duplechain, who also voted against the superintendent’s contract at the meeting, expressed similar sentiments.
“No reason for anyone to be treated this way. So far in 3 years, only women have been removed from board room meetings,” Sara Duplechain wrote in an emailed response to AP’s questions.
Duplechain called the police on Fontana last fall after the first meeting following the boycott, accusing him of yelling at her in the parking lot. No charges were filed by police.
Fontana said the teacher arrested after Monday’s meeting was not following the rules of board meeting procedure.
“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,” Fontana said. “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 last night.
“The marshal did his job. He went over there to settle it down. He couldn’t settle it down. She’s the one who made the choice to continue speaking,” Fontana said. “He was taking her out. He wasn’t arresting her. He was escorting her out, telling her don’t come back tonight. It escalated out in the hall and she ended up getting arrested. “He did exactly what he was hired to do. He followed the procedures completely. She’s the one who made the choices that got her arrested “