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Due Process Violation

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//September 25, 2023//

Due Process Violation

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//September 25, 2023//

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Jessica Biggs v. Chicago Board of Education

Case No.: 22-2031

Officials: Sykes, Chief Judge, and Rovner and Lee, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Due Process Violation

Biggs was the interim principal of Burke Elementary School on an at-will basis. According to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Transportation Policy, no CPS school employee is allowed to transport a student in their personal vehicle without obtaining written consent from the school’s principal and the student’s legal guardian. The principal is required to maintain copies of the driver’s license and insurance documentation of those employees involved in student transportation.

An investigation uncovered that for several years, Biggs had instructed her subordinates to mark students who arrived late as “tardy” instead of “absent,” regardless of the actual instructional time they received during the day. This practice likely distorted Burke’s attendance records. Biggs admitted that she had instructed Burke employees to pick up students in their personal vehicles without obtaining written parental consent and had failed to retain copies of their drivers’ licenses and insurance documentation. Consequently, Biggs was terminated from her position and labeled as “Do Not Hire.” This designation did not necessarily bar her from employment at a non-CPS school. During community meetings, it was disclosed that Biggs’s termination was attributed to issues related to “integrity,” and a redacted version of the report was publicly discussed.

Biggs filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that her termination had deprived her of the liberty to pursue her chosen occupation without due process, citing the “stigmatizing public statements” made in connection with her dismissal. The Seventh Circuit upheld the summary judgment dismissal of her lawsuit, reasoning that no reasonable jury could conclude that Biggs had suffered a concrete loss of employment opportunities within her chosen profession. Instead, her experience mirrored the typical challenges and delays that individuals encounter when seeking new employment, especially after being terminated.


Decided 09/18/23

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