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How a Pro Se Won Justice : An Inside Look at an Educator's Stunning Civil Rights-employment Victory
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How a Pro Se Won Justice is the remarkable story of one woman’s fight against a powerful and clout-heavy school district.
Joyce Hutchens, a veteran English, journalism, and business teacher at one of Chicago’s leading public high schools, leaves the classroom to become president of a training and consulting firm before returning to education three years later—this time at Consuella B. York Alternative High School, located in the Cook County Jail.
After the principal retires and is replaced by the assistant principal, Hutchens is unjustly targeted and disciplined. She transfers to the school district’s Professional Development Unit, and one year later, she and every other black employee in her department are laid off. Within one week, a white staff person assumes her former position.
Alleging race discrimination and hoping for justice, Hutchens files a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education. But after three long years of delays, the judge assigned to Hutchens’ case rules against her.
With no money, no law degree, and abandoned by two attorneys, Hutchens proceeds pro se and appeals the judge’s ruling, writing her own appellate briefs and engaging in an oral argument against the Chicago Board of Education’s attorney.