The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a transgender teenager’s case against the Harrison County Board of Education.
Michael Critchfield suffered abuse at the hands of assistant principal Lee Livengood in 2018. Livengood followed Michael into a boys restroom at the school where he berated, harassed and misgendered him, and even told Michael to “come out here and use the urinal” to prove he is a boy.
In January 2020, A Harrison County Circuit Court judge dismissed claims brought on Michael’s behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of WV (ACLU-WV) and Teresa Toriseva of Toriseva Law. The judge ruled that the school board was not liable for Livengood’s actions. Today’s ruling remands the case back to Circuit Court and allows Michael’s case to proceed.
“This is a victory for all West Virginia kids,” Toriseva said. “If they are abused, they can have their day in court.”
“We’ve said all along we wouldn’t tolerate the kind of behavior Michael endured from a student and we certainly shouldn’t tolerate from a school official who is supposed to educate and protect students,” ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark said.
Michael, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Liberty High School this spring, said this fight is about helping other trans kids.
“I’ve stayed in this fight because I want schools to be safer for trans kids who come after me,” he said. “I’m doing this for them.”
The case will now return to Harrison County Circuit Court.