A Benton County Superior Court judge has ruled the Richland School Board recall against 3 newly-elected members can move forward.  We have noticed some interesting aspects of this recall movement.

This piece contains Op-Ed material, observations of this recall situation 

  This case is almost exactly similar to Kettle Falls

In February 2022, the Kettle Falls School Board, also by a vote of 3-2, opted to make masks optional, or end their mask mandate, but later, like Richland, rescinded the move by voting again, this time 3-2 to continue the policy.

Kettle Falls was threatened by SPI Chris Rykdahl with losing funding over the move. Last fall, Rykdahl self-appointedly set a 'mandate' (which legislators said was unconstitutional) that schools that did not comply could lose funding. He was sued over this move.

At least one other District also briefly 'toyed' with the idea, but Kettle Falls and Richland actually did it.

   No fallout from the Kettle Falls incident

Despite some very testy meetings, there was no fallout from their board moves. There's been no word of any attempts to recall or oust board members.  However, in Richland, it is being used as an opportunity to try to recall three newly-elected board members, Audra Byrd, Kari Williams, and Semi Bird.

The court filings read exactly the same for all three,  recall petitioners are trying to use the Board code of ethics and other 'rules' to remove them, as well as accusations of knowingly and willingly breaking the law.

   Mask Mandate is not a law

Technically, the emergency proclamations are a result of laws on the books that give the Governor of WA State powers to enact policies that are treated as laws, but they in themselves are not laws.  The RCW (revised code of Washington) does not have a mask mandate law. It may seem a technicality, but it's important.

It is also worth noting that in mid-February, a letter was sent to the SPI, Gov. Inslee, and DOH Chief Shah demanding the mask mandates be lifted in schools. It was signed by over 40 superintendents from mostly Eastern WA Districts.

However, it was not signed by anyone from the Richland School District.

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It is also worth noting that 3 of the four petitioners do not have children in the RSD at this time. One of them, Michael Lawrence (a former major manager-leader at Hanford) is well into his 80's.  All four are, or were, high-level, 'high-powered' local business persons and/or leaders.

What their specific connections to the RSD or this situation have not been revealed.

It is also interesting to note the speed and effort with which this recall movement came about, yet there was very little effort made by anyone except parents to try to get students back in RSD classrooms month after month after month as the pandemic dragged on.

Some interesting observations, indeed.


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