Lee Livengood, the West Virginia assistant principal suspended last year for allegedly telling a transgender student “you freak me out” and accosting him in a school bathroom, has returned to work after writing the student a tepid apology letter.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) West Virginia chapter has hit out at Livengood and Harrison County Schools for not taking the matter seriously, after the teacher returned from suspension to Liberty High School earlier this year.
According to the ACLU, Harrison County Schools has failed to meet the terms agreed when the two sides settled the complaint in January. This includes a transgender-inclusive policy, while an apology letter from Livengood to 15-year-old student Michael Critchfield amounted to just two lines.
“Michael did eventually receive an apology letter from him, which in its entirety states, ‘I am deeply sorry for raising my voice while in the bathroom on 11/27/18. I promise it won’t happen again,'” the ACLU said in a petition launched this week.
“After receiving the letter and reports that Livengood was still monitoring Michael’s lunch period, it became painfully clear that neither Livengood nor Harrison County Schools were taking any serious steps to address what happened in the bathroom that day.”
The ACLU told NewNowNext that there has been little intervention by Liberty High or Harrison County Schools on Critchfield’s behalf, to the extent that Livengood supervises Critchfield during his lunch break.
“He shouldn’t be in the same room as Michael, ever. This is was a very traumatic incident,” Loree Stark, legal director for ACLU West Virginia, told NewNowNext.
“I refuse to allow the Board of Education and Assistant Principal Livengood to sweep what happened to me under the rug,” Critchfield said.
Lee Livengood told Michael Critchfield to urinate in front of him to prove gender
The ACLU complained on Critchfield’s behalf to the head of the Harris County school district in December, and Livengood was suspended as the case drew worldwide attention.
The complaint claimed that Livengood followed Critchfield into the bathroom, where the boy was using a stall, and asked him why he was in the men’s facilities. He allegedly told Critchfield to “come out here and use the urinal” to prove he was a boy.
The incident then escalated as Livengood reportedly blocked the exit and asked Critchfield what would happen if another boy thought Critchfield was checking him out in the bathroom. As Critchfield left the bathroom, Livengood allegedly said: “I’m not going to lie. You freak me out.”
In an ACLU press release in December, Critchfield, 15, said the incident with Livengood, which allegedly took place on November 27, had left him terrified.
“At the end of the day, all I want is to feel welcome and safe in my school,” the teenager said.
“Mr Livengood’s behaviour in the bathroom that day was terrifying and no student deserves that kind of treatment.”