Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom denied her request for an injunction and said the matter should not have been brought to court.
Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring said that because the school board received complaints last year about graduation ceremonies that involved rowdy audiences and prolonged services, they've been working with the mayor, police and venue operators to develop new guidelines to crack down on those issues.
Just last week, Mark Milam, assistant superintendent of Kanawha's high schools, sent an email to principals reminding them of the new guidelines, which address everything from safety hazards and rehearsal times to parking and bathroom breaks.
"The longer graduation ceremonies take, the harder it is for the students, as well as those in attendance, to stay focused and remain comfortable," Milam writes in the email. "I would ask that you be mindful to limit the number of speakers, both students and guests, if at all possible so the ceremonies can be swift, honorable, and ceremonious."
School board President Pete Thaw said principals have always been in charge of their graduation ceremonies, but after running into problems last May, the board is aiming for shorter ones.
Thaw, though, had hoped the principals would warn students of the changes ahead of time.
"I don't know if what Aulenbacher did is correct or not. I don't know if all of the schools are choosing to do just two speakers," he said. "Mr. Aulenbacher has made several moves I didn't think were good, but he's the principal up there. That's his authority."
At Riverside High School, the policy has long been to extend the option to any student with highest honors.
"I don't have a minimum or maximum," said Riverside Principal Valery Harper. "If I had 10 students that graduated with highest honors, all of them have the opportunity to choose to speak."
At South Charleston High, the policy has been to allow the top two students in the class, in addition to the student body president and senior class president, to speak at graduation.
"This is a time for kids to be honored and an opportunity to be showcased," South Charleston Principal Mike Arbogast said. "But it's each school's principal's discretion to manage their own graduation."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.