RICHLAND, Wash. — The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that members of the Richland School Board can be recalled over its early revocation of mask mandates in schools, according to court documents. M. Semi Bird, Audra Byrd and Kari Williams filed appeals against trial court’s decisions to allow the recalls in May 2022, leading to the state Supreme Court hearing.
The court held an en banc conference, in which all court justices consider the appeal and come to a decision, rather than a standard three-judge hearing. The en banc conference was held February 9, where the recalls were permitted. The court found sufficient legal evidence of misfeasance, malfeasance and/or violations of the oath of office, according to hearing documents.
Ten counts had been approved by Judge Norma Rodriguez, who heard the case in trial court. The Washington State Supreme Court approved four of these charges against the board members.
The court approved charge two, three and four against all three, according to court documents. Charge two alleges the board members violated the Open Public Meetings Act. Charge three alleges the board members violated the state mask mandate and surpassed board powers. Charge four regards the board members’ decision against reversing the decision, leading to two days of closures and potential funding loss. The court also approved an additional charge for Byrd and Williams and a separate additional charge against just Bird. The rest were reversed.
This means recall efforts can continue, allowing for more signatures on the recall petitions. Each recall would need to be approved by 25% of the board member’s voters. This would lead to a recall election.