Official accused of harassing trans student gets job back
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia assistant principal accused of harassing a transgender student won an appeal to get his job back Monday.
The Harrison County Board of Education voted to reinstate Lee Livengood after voting unanimously last month not to renew his contract at the end of a three-year probationary period, news outlets report.
County Schools Superintendent Mark Manchin said Monday’s decision was difficult and followed “a lot of discussion.”
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 to prove his gender by using a urinal.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s West Virginia chapter has pushed the county for diversity training to prevent similar incidents.
The ACLU said in a statement Monday that Livengood “has demonstrated he is incapable of conducting himself in a professional manner in any environment with children, and he has shown a troubling lack of remorse for his actions. We will be actively monitoring the situation to ensure Michael and the students of Harrison County are protected moving forward.”
Livengood’s attorney, Alex Shook, had argued that 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.
According to Critchfield, the school band was preparing to take an after-school bus trip to Morgantown in November 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 said he 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.