UPDATE: Principal accused of harassing transgender boy gets job back

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - UPDATE 4/29/2019 8:35 P.M.

A West Virginia assistant principal accused of harassing a transgender student has won an appeal to get his job back.

News outlets report the Harrison County Board of Education on Monday voted to reinstate Lee Livengood. Last month the board voted not to renew Livengood's contract at the end of a three-year probationary period.

County Schools Superintendent Mark Manchin says 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 says in a statement that Livengood has "shown a troubling lack of remorse for his actions."

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 3/26/19 5:45 P.M.

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 a boys' restroom at Liberty High School and said, "You freak me out." Critchfield said Livengood also ordered him to prove his gender by using a urinal.

Livengood's attorney, Alex Shook, said 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.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 3/20/19 10:40 A.M.

An assistant principal accused of harassing a transgender student will be out of his job after this school year.

The board of education in Harrison County voted to not 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."

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Superintendent Mark Manchin initially tried to extend Livengood's contract. Manchin said Tuesday's board vote to end his employment on June 30 was unanimous.

Michael Critchfield, 15, 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.

The American Civil Liberties Union said 1,100 people signed a petition demanding the board take action.


UPDATE: 01/07/2019

The Harrison Co., W.Va. Board of Education could decide Tuesday night whether to indefinitely suspend an assistant principal accused of harassing a transgender student in a school restroom.

A 15-year-old male, transgender student says on Nov. 27, 2018, Liberty High School Assistant Principal Lee Livengood harassed him for using a boys' bathroom and told him, "You freak me out."

Livengood was suspended with pay after the incident.

Harrison Co. Schools Superintendent Mark Manchin has recommended that the school board suspend Livengood indefinitely without pay.

School board president Frank Devono says countywide sensitivity training is also being implemented.


UPDATE: 12/18/18 4:50 P.M.

An assistant principal at a Harrison County high school has been suspended after accusations that he bullied and harassed a transgender student in a school bathroom.

Liberty High School Assistant Principal Lee Livengood has been suspended with pay for four days to allow for an investigation into the incident.

He allegedly confronted the sophomore student on Nov. 27 with a challenge to "use a urinal to prove that he was a boy," the ACLU said.

On Monday, Harrison County Superintendent Mark Manchin, without identifying Livengood, said it appeared the employee "did not act in an appropriate manner, and was not sensitive to the needs of one of our students."

The American Civil Liberties Union said that while they are glad action is being taken, it is not enough.

"While we are heartened to hear the administration admit to wrongdoing, a four-day paid suspension of an employee is not sufficient," the group said in a statement. "The Harrison County School District needs to make significant changes to its culture. We look forward to meeting with Mr. Manchin and developing a real plan to ensure that every student is safe."


The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia is backing a Liberty High School student who alleges bullying and harassment by a principal.

The ACLU said in a news release on Monday that a sophomore student reported being "cornered, harassed and intimidated in a public boys bathroom" by a principal on Nov. 27.

The release alleges that the principal confronted the student in the bathroom and challenged the student to "use a urinal to prove that he was a boy."

"At the end of the exchange, (the principal) told (the student) in front of other students and a chaperone, “Not going to lie. You freak me out,'" according to the ACLU.

Harrison County Superintendent Mark Manchin issued the following statement on Monday.

"The preliminary information I have received does appear from what I've been able to confirm is that our employee did not act in an appropriate manner, and was not sensitive to the needs of one of our students," Manchin said.

The ACLU sent Manchin a letter on Monday seeking answers and a resolution.

“The fact that this not only occurred on school property, but was perpetrated by a principal at the school is reprehensible,” said Joseph Cohen, executive director of ACLU-WV. “We trust West Virginia schools to care for and educate our children and because of that, they must be held to a higher standard than what (the student) experienced. This should never have happened in the first place and we are certainly doing everything we can to ensure it never happens again.”

As of Monday morning, the ACLU said no action had been taken against the principal.

“At the end of the day, all I want is to feel welcome and safe in my school,” the student said in the news release. “(The principal)’s behavior in the bathroom that day was terrifying and no student deserves that kind of treatment. I’m telling my story so that high school doesn’t have to be a scary place for kids like me.”