Teacher Fired After Serving Prison Sentence for Engaging in Nonviolent Protest
Interview with Janice Sevre-Duszynska, former Lexington, Ky. high school teacher, conducted by Between the Lines' Melinda Tuhus
In November 2001, 43 people were arrested at Fort Benning, Ga., and charged with criminal trespass as part of their campaign to shut down the School of the Americas. The school, now known officially as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, trains thousands of Latin American military personnel, with a disturbingly large percentage of these students who return to their home countries and commit rape, torture and murder against their own people. Protests against this Pentagon school have been organized for the past dozen years by the group known as School of the Americas Watch.
One of those arrested at the 2001 protest was Lexington, Ky., high school teacher Janice Sevre-Duszynska. She was convicted of criminal trespass by Judge Mallon Faircloth and served three months at a women's federal prison in Kentucky. She returned home in early December to find a letter from her employer, Henry Clay High School, where she had taught English as a Second Language for the past 12 years. In the letter, Interim Schools Superintendent Duane Tennant terminated her employment, labeling her arrest and imprisonment for nonviolent protest as, "insubordination and conduct unbecoming a teacher."
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Janice Sevre-Duszynska about her motivation to engage in this act of conscience, and about the retaliatory action taken against her, which she believes poses a threat to activists everywhere.
For more information on Janice Sevre-Duszynska's case or on the campaign against the School of the Americas, contact the School of the Americas Watch by calling (202) 234-3440 or visit their Web site at www.soaw.org
An appeal hearing will be held Jan. 22. Act now to support Janice in regaining her employment. Here's what you can do:
Send a letter of support for Janice to the editor of the Lexington Herald Letters to the Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org; fax: (859) 255-7236 or Letters to the Editor, Lexington Herald-Leader, 100 Midland Ave., Lexington, KY 40508. Letters to the editor generally should be no more than 250 words.
Send a copy of that letter to the interim schools superintendent: Dr. L. Duane Tennant, Interim Superintendent, Fayette County Public Schools, 701 E. Main St., Lexington, KY 40502 or email: email@example.com; phone: 859-384-4104; fax: 859-381-4303