Earlier today the Washington State Supreme Court publicly released their ruling on the appeal regarding the Richland School Board Recall.

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In 2022 a twelve count recall petition was submitted against Richland School Board President Kari Williams, Vice President Audra Byrd, and Member Misipati 'Semi' Bird for actions taking during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.  In May of 2022 Benton County Superior Court Justice Norma Rodriguez ruled that 5 counts could move forward as they met the state recall standard.

Getty Images
Getty Images

What is the State Recall Standard?

In order for a charge to withstand scrutiny against a public official, it must meet one of three parameters under Washington State Law:

  1. Misfeasance - the performance of a duty in an improper manner
  2. Malfeasance - the commission of an unlawful act
  3. Violation of Oath of Office - the neglect or knowing failure by an elective public officer to perform faithfully a duty imposed by law

Judge Rodriguez found five of the charges met the standard initially.  Roughly one month after her initial ruling she determined that one charge did not meet the standard and removed it from consideration.

WA state supreme court (courts.wa.gov)
WA state supreme court (courts.wa.gov)

The Washington State Supreme Court announced at the end of 2022 they would consider the appeal from Williams, Byrd, and Bird without oral arguments.  They issued their ruling in February and officially filed it today.

What is the Verdict?

The Justices unanimously ruled that three of the remaining four charges could move forward as they met the standard for recall.  The charges that remain are:

  1. Violated the Open Public Meetings Act by voting at a special meeting taking final action on a matter, to wit: masking optional, that had not been included in the published public meeting agenda.
  2. Voted to make [wearing] masks at schools optional, in knowing violation of the law and in excess of the powers of a school board, even after warnings from the State and from legal counsel.
  3. Violated District Policies and Procedures by failing to assure compliance with law and policy

So Now What?

Now the path is cleared for those who filed the recall petition to gather the needed amount of signatures from registered voters in the Richland School District.  If they fail to gather enough signatures the petition dies.  If they submit the required number of signatures, but in the validation process they fall short of what is required, the petition dies.  If they gather enough signatures and they pass the validation process, the recall will be on the ballot for registered voters that live in the Richland School District.

Petitioners have until May 9th to collect the required number of signatures, which is 25% of the number of votes cast in the last election for the three school board members named in the petition.  if successful, the recall with be on the August 1st primary ballot.

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Gallery Credit: Elisa Fernández-Arias

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