Assistant principal appeals job removal after trans boy harassed
UPDATE (March 25):
A West Virginia assistant principal accused of harassing a transgender student is appealing a decision to remove him from his job after this school year.
an attorney for Lee Livengood asked the Harrison County Board of Education to reconsider last week's vote not to renew Livengood's contract at the end of a three-year probationary period.
In November, Livengood allegedly followed transgender teenager Michael Critchfield into the boys bathroom at Liberty High School and said, "You freak me out." Critchfield said Livengood also ordered him prove his gender by using a urinal.
Livengood's attorney, Alex Shook, says his client was unaware of Critchfield's gender identity and was not told of an arrangement Critchfield had with the principal to use the boys restrooms.
The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking diversity training in the county.
ORIGINAL STORY (March 20):
A West Virginia assistant principal accused of harassing a transgender student will be out of his job after this school year.
News outlets report the board of education in Harrison County voted not to renew a probationary contract for Lee Livengood, who allegedly followed a teenager into the boys bathroom at Liberty High School and said, "You freak me out."
Tuesday's board vote to end Livengood's employment on June 30 was unanimous.
Fifteen-year-old student Michael Critchfield said Livengood also ordered him in November to prove his gender by using a urinal. Livengood was suspended without pay before returning to Liberty High.
County schools Superintendent Mark Manchin said the board did not renew Livengood's contract at the end of a three-year probationary period.
"It's not uncommon at all," Manchin said. "There's no other reason other than the fact that we just desire not to have him continue as an employee of the Harrison County Board of Education."
The American Civil Liberties Union's West Virginia chapter said 1,100 people signed a petition demanding the board take action. The ACLU said it continues to push the county for diversity training to prevent similar incidents.
"While we're glad to see Harrison County Schools taking accountability for what happened in the bathroom that day, we expect talks to resume regarding the implementation of best practice trans-inclusive policies that will better protect LGBTQ students and create a safer learning environment for Michael moving forward," ACLU-West Virginia legal director Loree Stark said in a statement Wednesday. "Anything less would be unacceptable."
According to Critchfield, the school band was preparing to take an after-school bus trip to Morgantown to watch a performance at West Virginia University. Critchfield said he went to the bathroom and checked to see if anyone was standing at a urinal before he went into a stall.
Livengood then opened the bathroom door and asked if any students were in the stall. Critchfield replied, and when he left the stall, Livengood was standing in the bathroom doorway and blocked Critchfield from leaving.
Critchfield recalled Livengood repeatedly yelling, "Why are you in here? You shouldn't be in here."
Critchfield said he replied that it was his legal right to use that bathroom. He said Livengood used improper pronouns when referring to Critchfield and challenged him to use a urinal to prove that he was a boy.