Judge denies GW student's request for injunction against principal
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Kanawha County judge on Monday denied a George Washington High School student an injunction against her principal.
Circuit Judge Duke Bloom denied the injunction requested by Katelyn Campbell, student body vice president at GW.
Campbell "failed to demonstrate that she would suffer irreparable harm," the judge wrote. He also said the matter shouldn't have been brought before the court.
"It is clear to the Court that this matter would have been better addressed by Kanawha County Schools where the day to day administration of the school system is most properly addressed," he wrote.
Campbell asked the court for an injunction against her principal April 15. She said Principal George Aulenbacher threatened to call the college where she's been accepted and tell them she has "bad character" for talking to the media after a speaker visited the school to address "the consequences, both physical and emotional," of premarital sex.
Aulenbacher denied Campbell's accusations that he threatened her for speaking out against an abstinence-only assembly held at the school, saying the teen misinterpreted his words.
Campbell called speaker Pam Stenzel's presentation a form of "slut-shaming," and an audio recording of the assembly reveals she warned GW students that premarital sex is likely to lead to infertility in women and saying things such as "condoms never work."
Aulenbacher said at a hearing last month that he called Campbell into his office after finding out she had contacted reporters but said he was simply using an analogy to explain that he felt "stabbed in the back" because she didn't come to him with her concerns first.
Campbell alleged Aulenbacher threatened to call Wellesley College, where she's been accepted, and tell them that she's a troublemaker. But Aulenbacher testified that he had no intentions of calling the school and was simply presenting a hypothetical scenario.
Campbell, Bloom wrote in the order, admitted that she didn't believe Aulenbacher would keep her from graduating or tarnish her education records. "Ms. Campbell seeks the injunction for reassurance that nothing will happen 'because this is [her] future and it's something that [she has] worked hard for.'"
However, "the Court cannot issue an injunction as a precautionary measure," Bloom wrote, noting she is on good terms with Wellesley.
"Moreover, the Court must emphasize that it is not in the business of issuing advisory opinions or deciding the day to day operations in the school system," he wrote, adding that attorneys spent a large amount of time questioning Aulenbacher at the hearing on his religious beliefs and the decision to allow Stenzel to speak at the school and the particulars of the school's sexual education program.
Campbell was in New York City on Monday, where Seventeen magazine is working on a story about the situation, when she learned of Bloom's decision.
"I'm obviously not satisfied with what happened, but I don't think it's a complete loss," she said. "I've been given a situation where I can really make a difference."
It wasn't the court's job to decide whether it was right to allow Stenzel to speak at the school, Bloom wrote.
And while Campbell had the right to speak out against the speaker the case "is not really about the First Amendment.
"This case is about whether Mr. Aulenbacher threatened Ms. Campbell and whether under the circumstances the Court is required to prevent Mr. Aulenbacher from doing irreparable harm to her."
Aulenbacher has said students were not forced to listen to Stenzel and that no assemblies are mandatory. Campbell did not attend the assembly, but said she listened to the recording and heard numerous complaints from students.
GW teachers were informed about Stenzel's assembly via a flier promoting her message of "God's plan for purity"; the flier was not distributed to students, Aulenbacher said.
Campbell said a teacher contacted her the night before the assembly with concerns because she thought she, in her capacity on the student council, had the right to know.
Believe in West Virginia, a private religious group, sponsored visits by Stenzel to GW and Riverside high schools. Aulenbacher said he was approached by South Charleston car dealer Joe Holland, a member of the group's board of directors, about the speaker.
Kanawha County Board of Education member Becky Jordon's husband helped pay to bring in the speaker, but how much of the reported $4,000 fee he paid is still unclear.
Campbell said she plans to continue promoting comprehensive sex education, even though some students at her school have shunned her for speaking out.
"I'm secure with who I am," though, she said. "My friends and I are a lot closer after this -- they've stood by me."
Reach Kate White at email@example.com or 304-348-1723.