Richland, Washington school board recall petitioning can proceed after the state Supreme Court approved charges.
By Eileen Griffin
The effort to recall three conservative school board members in Richland, Washington is proceeding.
The Washington State Supreme Court determined the charges against the three school board members were sufficient to allow the recall to advance to the next step in the process, the Tri-City Herald reports.
The court only ruled on whether or not the charges meet the standard for a recall election. The court did not make any determination on the individual board members or their actions.
Prematurely Made Masks Optional
Four Richland men initiated complaints against the three school board members after they voted to make mask-wearing optional for school children. The vote was taken three weeks before Governor Inslee (D) lifted his Emergency Order mandating masks, on March 12, 2022.
Heartland Daily News previously reported that a major issue during Richland school board races that year was the mask mandate. Many parents voted for newcomers who supported lifting the mask mandate.
With the Supreme Court ruling, the petitioners driving the recall effort have approval to begin collecting signatures to get the matter in front of the voters in the city of Richland.
Regular Election Coming
Board member Audra Byrd reported on her Facebook page that a recall will cost $250,000. The school district will be required to pay for the cost of the recall.
“Following the unfortunate Supreme Court ruling, the petitioners have a choice to put our community through a recall or not,” Byrd writes. “If they choose to proceed who is going to pay for the petitioners’ recall? The answer: the School District will be paying!”
Byrd questions the necessity of a recall as three board seats will be up for re-election in the fall. Voters could remove school board members during a regular election, rather than forcing a recall at the cost of $250,000.
“Let’s get to work and educate our children, not take money away from their education in order to support a recall effort that will only divide our community,” Byrd writes.
Board member Semi Bird, who is now a candidate for Washington state governor, said in a press release after the Supreme Court ruling that he took a stand on behalf of school children.
“I stood for students and their families and against Jay Inslee’s illegal mandate, which violated the constitutional rights of all of our citizens,” Bird stated. “I stand by my decision and will continue to stand for the children and families of Washington State.”
Bird is a U.S. Marine veteran and a decorated Special Forces Green Beret. He is the first Black man elected to the Richland school board, and a conservative who says he is a “walking counternarrative” to the left-wing agenda, the Washington Times reports.
“I am being targeted by a regressive group who opposed my election, placed a target on my back, and subsequently weaponized government against me, children, and their families,” Bird said in his February 10 statement. “They are doing this because I stood against divisive tenets of CRT and other dysfunctional and harmful policies responsible for poor performance in our school district.”
Resisting the Recall
The group defending the three board members, Resist the Recall, stated on Facebook: “One year ago, Audra, Semi and Kari voted for mask choice. This was reversed 2 days later. This is the logic behind why radical leftists want to waste $250,000 in taxpayer money that belongs to our schools.”
Brian Brendel, one of the petitioners, said at a recent school board meeting, “your violations, your actions opened the legal window to fix the mistake that was your election.”
“I wish I could say I was surprised,” wrote Richland resident Annette Parrish Rose, in a Facebook post. The RSD recall isn’t about anyone breaking the law at all. It’s about the other two board members not liking what happened.”
‘Backing the Students’
Richland resident and former RSD secretary Lynn Ibatuan said in a post on the Resist the Recall Facebook page, “Thanks for backing the students and parents! The recallers are Superintendent and teacher pleasers. Tired of students being ignored.”
Brigham Young University – Idaho Professor Brett Amidan said in a post on the Resist the Recall Facebook page, “Pay attention to who is collecting the signatures. It won’t be the 4 men who are the figureheads of this. It will be the community liberals, including their failed candidates. I hope they are exposed for what they are.”
The Richland School Board Recall campaign has begun gathering signatures with several scheduled locations and events. They have until early May to meet the signature requirement for each of the three school board members to be put on the ballot.
Thank you for this excellent summation of the Richland School Board Recall effort. I have sat back in disgust, commented on TCH news articles, all, with the belated effort to blame this on a phoney “Open Meetings Act,” violation which we all know was filed long after the initial bru ha ha over the masks was initiated.
I am very disappointed in the comments made by Brian Brendel noted in your article. In fact, I was surprised he involved himself in this at all. Without hearing much, other than the TCH’s biased reporting, I pretty much concluded that this was a case of sour grapes. That sentiment was echoed by the speaker at the school board meeting. Shame on you, Mike Hansen.
Once again, thank you for this article. It is refreshing to read something that is not slanted in favor of the recall effort.