ABBEVILLE, LA (KPLC) - If there's a positive side to the firestorm that resulted from Deyshia Hargrave's arrest, perhaps it's the attention it brings to the issue of teacher salaries.
Vermilion Superintendent Jerome Puyau says he supports pay increases not only for teachers but all school employees. And Puyau says he hopes they can soon return the focus to students and education.
It has been difficult for Puyau to find his school system and himself thrust into a harsh national spotlight.
"It has brought a negative on a community that is great. Great community, great students, great family, great everything. And I personally do not like to see it, I do not like the firestorm. I understand we live in a digital world but all I ask is focus it on me," he said.
Puyau was hired in 2013. His controversial $30,000 pay raise brings his salary to about $140,800, which apparently he could have had sooner.
"That salary was the exact same salary of the previous superintendent. They offered me more money. I declined it. I did not take the larger salary that they wanted. I said I needed to prove myself," said Puyau.
And he says he has proven himself.
"We have some really good things happening in our schools. Twelve A schools in an A district. We are doing something right," he said.
If anything positive can come from the controversy, he hopes it brings everyone together.
"I hope we can get back to educating students. The focus should get away from me and the contract; that's done. We need to learn. We need to work together as one. We need to reunify not only our board, but reunify the union, the board, the administration, everyone coming back together as one because prior to this whole fiasco, we were united, working as one," he said.
He supports the teachers rally and the first amendment, yet:
"I also have to follow the same laws and rules as everyone else. When the board president tells me to be quiet, I'm quiet. Board president says, do not answer, I do not answer. Those are rules. Being asked to leave or sit down, that is a rule. We all must follow rules," he said.
Puyau said his raise was in part to raise his salary ranking for superintendents. He says his salary ranking has now gone from 57 in the state to about 32.
He says under his leadership the school district has gone from number seventeen in the state to number six.