Late last year, a transgender student at Liberty High School in West Virginia said he was “cornered, harassed and intimidated” in a bathroom by Assistant Principal Lee Livengood.
As the story went, the sophomore went to use the boys’ restroom before a band trip. When he walked out, Livengood was standing there and confronted him about why he was using that particular restroom before challenging him to “use a urinal to prove that he was a boy.”
When a chaperone for the trip arrived on the scene, Livengood allegedly told the student, “I’m not going to lie, you kind of freak me out.”
… I received a letter from the ACLU, with certain demands and certain requirements, I am reading that information. Everything is on the table with how we are going to deal with this but, I hope anyone listening here today… recognizes we take this thing incredibly seriously, and we are very concerned. Preliminary, of what I’ve read and what I’ve seen in my investigation, is that perhaps this assistant principal did act in an inappropriate way. I will make that decision and determination of how we are going to address it. We want to make sure that this child is protected,” said Superintendent Mark Manchin.
Last month, that initial reluctance — he only received a four-day suspension (with pay!) at the time — led to Livengood losing his job.
But now, after an appeal, Livengood will be returning to his job.
The vote to update the contract of Liberty High School Assistant Principal Lee Livengood was approved unanimously by the board and was part of a broader list of personnel recommendations put forward by Harrison County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin.
The decision to grant Livengood a continuing contract followed “a lot of discussion” amongst county school administration, the board and legal counsel, and was a difficult decision, Manchin said.
A difficult decision for whom? How many trans people did the school board talk to before making their decision? What did Livengood do to deserve any kind of leniency?
His reinstatement makes little sense. We’re just supposed to take the school board’s word that they’re acting in good faith when they haven’t earned that trust at all. Livengood is now a direct threat to trans students at his own school.
The ACLU of West Virginia has little legal recourse here, but they issued a statement expressing their disappointment:
“In light of today’s actions by the Harrison County Board of Education, we want to reaffirm our demand that Mr. Livengood not be allowed any contact with (the student) or any children. Mr. 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 (the transgender student) and the students of Harrison County are protected moving forward,” the statement reads.
When a group says the assistant principal of a school shouldn’t be allowed any contact with children because of his actions, you know that guy did something awful.
If Livengood turned a new leaf, great, but he has yet to show any understanding of what he did wrong. There’s no apology, no explanation of what he did wrong, no statement about how he’ll act now. We’re just supposed to assume everyone has the kids’ best interests at heart… even though Livengood nearly lost his job precisely because because he didn’t.
(Thanks to @BG45_Pho for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)