CHARLESTON, W.Va. - From now on, the Kanawha County superintendent will have to sign off on all assemblies about sex, religion or politics.
School board members passed the measure Wednesday by a 3-2 vote. Those in support said recent events show the need for more oversight. Those opposed said principals should be in control.
The measure comes in the wake of a scandal at George Washington High School. An assembly there in April drew national attention when one senior called out the abstinence-only speaker for "slut shaming" and scare tactics.
That student, Katelyn Campbell, eventually filed a lawsuit against GW Principal George Aulenbacher, claiming he threatened her after she took her protest to the media. A judge denied her request for an injunction last week.
But the assertions riled up a contentious debate on the motivations of certain speakers and their place in public schools.
Board President Pete Thaw introduced the measure Thursday, saying the county needs oversight in these kinds of sensitive issues.
Board member Becky Jordon, who has fiercely defended Aulenbacher throughout the controversy and whose husband donated money to the religious group that brought the controversial speaker to GW, said the measure wasn't necessary.
"It's micromanaging," Jordon said. "Let the principals do their jobs."
"We tried that," Thaw responded.
"And he's a great principal, back off," Jordon fired back. The measure ultimately passed three-to-two, with Jordon and board member Robin Rector voting no. Rector said she didn't necessarily approve of the speaker's presence in Kanawha County schools, but was wary of a measure that resulted in an increased workload for county employees.
"I think that maybe what we gain from this should be a lesson learned and not a new policy," Rector said.