An assistant principal in West Virginia has gotten his job back after the school board initially decided not to renew his contract following an accusation of bullying a transgender student.
The Harrison County Board of Education voted on Monday (29 April) to reinstate Lee Livengood. Last month they decided not to renew his contract following a three-year probationary period.
County Schools Superintendent Mark Manchin described the decision as ‘difficult’ and came after ‘a lot of discussion’.
Michael Critchfield, 15, a sophomore at Liberty High School, first reported the story of Livengood bullying him in December.
Critchfield was preparing for an after-school marching band trip on 27 November when he decided to use the restroom before the 45-minute bus ride.
According to reports, he made a habit of checking the boys bathroom to make sure it was empty before using it. Seeing it was empty, he stepped inside. Then Livengood entered and allegedly began harassing him, telling Critchfield he ‘shouldn’t be here’.
Critchfield described it as ‘terrifying’ and ‘traumatizing’.
What happened next
Over 1,100 people signed a petition demanding the board take action.
Critchfield and his family began working with the ACLU’s West Virginia chapter. At the time, Livengood had only been ‘suspended with pay’.
The ACLU published an apology letter written by Livengood consisting of two sentences. All he apologized for was raising his voice.
‘That Mr. Livengood — and any individual or entity that approved his apology — believes that the only problematic behavior that occurred that day was a raised voice is deeply troubling,’ ACLU-West Virginia legal director Loree Stark commented.
Then the school board voted not to renew the contract.
ACLU says the work isn’t done
At the time of the contract termination, the ACLU released a statement saying the work wasn’t done. They released another statement yesterday at the news of Livengood’s reinstatement.
— ACLU of WV (@ACLU_WV) April 29, 2019
‘We want to reaffirm our demand that Mr. Livengood not be allowed any contact with Michael or any children,’ they wrote. ‘Mr. Livengood has demonstrated he is incapable of conducting himself in a professional manner in any environment with students.’
They added Livengood has also ‘shown a troubling lack of remorse’.
‘We will be actively monitoring the situation to ensure Michael and the students of Harrison County are protected moving forward,’ the statement concluded.
Author: Anya Crittenton
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