Ms Sullivan and her parents were inspired by a case last year in Pecos, Texas, about 100 miles from Alpine, where two students claimed to be valedictors amid confusion over a ” problem ”in the school tables. One of the students – with professional legal representation – filed a restraining order and sought an injunction to prevent Pecos High School from appointing its promotion major.
After Ms Sullivan couldn’t find a lawyer, her parents were disappointed but willing to drop the case. But she refused. She obtained advice and family records in the Pecos case, using the petition in that case as a guide to begin writing her own. His parents – his father, a breeder; her mother, a forensic investigator, reread it and helped her tidy up the language.
“We’re not even close to being lawyers,” Ms. Sullivan said.
In Alpine, a town of about 6,000 in Texas’ Big Bend Country, some who knew Ms. Sullivan were surprised she was doing it. There are other ways to spend your last summer before college. (She plans to attend the College of Charleston in South Carolina and major in biophysics with the goal of entering medicine.) But she has always been serious about school and a little firm in her resolve.
“She’s already in college, she already has scholarships,” said Teresa Todd, a local government lawyer who is a longtime friend of Ms Sullivan’s mother and whose sons are close to Ms Sullivan. “She worked really hard for this, and I think all kids deserve to know where they fit in the pecking order.”
“Children have to show their work,” Ms. Todd added. “Why is the school not obliged to show its work? “
She said she offered Ms. Sullivan some advice before her hearing: “Be herself. Be respectful. Don’t let the other side distract you from your game.
Ms Sullivan conceded some nervousness ahead of the hearing, particularly after school district attorney files cited a plethora of legal precedents and were peppered with terminology she was unfamiliar with.
But overall, she was confident. “I have all the evidence,” she said. “I have all the facts. And no one knows it as well as I do.