RECALL
RSD deserves an ethical school board.
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Frequently Asked Questions

This recall is not about masks nor is it a partisan issue. The recall is about elected officials being held responsible for unlawful actions they took while in office.

On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, Richland School Board Directors Semi Bird, Audra Byrd, and Kari Williams participated in a special meeting, held a vote that was not included on the meeting agenda, and took the final action of making masks optional in Richland Schools, effective immediately. In doing so, they broke several Washington State laws and violated their oaths of office.

In addition, there is evidence that the three collaborated before the meeting to plan for taking the vote, which is in violation of RCW 42.30, the Open Public Meetings Act.

A detailed list of the violations can be found in the sections below titled "Details of Charges for Recall" and "Additional Concerns."

  • Audra Byrd, Richland School Board Director, Position One (elected November 2021, term expires November 2025)

  • M. Semi Bird, Richland School Board Director, Position Three (elected November 2021, term expires November 2023)
    Rick Donahoe was elected to Position Three in 2019 but had to step down. Ken Gosney was nominated to fill the seat until the next election. Ken Gosney chose not to run in the 2021 election. Semi Bird was elected to finish the term.

  • Kari Williams, Richland School Board Director, Position Four (elected November 2019, term expires November 2023)

Any registered voter who lives within the Richland School District boundary can sign the petition.

Unfortunately, no. Only registered voters who live within the RSD boundary can sign. However, individuals living outside RSD boundaries can enourage their friends, family and co-workers who do live within the boundaries to sign.

  • Audra Byrd: 5,887

  • M. Semi Bird: 5,822

  • Kari Williams: 5,176

The number is different for each director being recalled. It's based on 25% of the number of ballots cast when the director was elected. We've added a 10% cushion to account for errors, rejected signatures, or other problems.

TBD

The recall petition was approved by Benton County Superior Court Judge Norma Rodriguez on May 11, 2022. The recall committee has up to 180 days to collect the required number of signatures to place the recall on the ballot.

If a sufficent number of signatures are gathered quickly, the recall could be included on the General Election ballot November 8, 2022. Otherwise the Benton County Auditor's office will schedule a special election.

Click the image below to view a full-size version of the recall timeline.

Recall Timeline

Each director is elected individually and must be recalled individually.

No. There are three different petitions. One for each of the three directors. If you believe that only one or two of the directors needs to be recalled, you do not have to sign the petition for the other directors.


Details of Charges for Recall

Specific Charge
Audra Byrd
Semi Bird
Kari Williams
Violation of RCW 42.30, Open Public Meetings Act

Participated in a special meeting, held a vote not included on the agenda, and took final action of making masks optional in Richland Schools effective immediately. Semi Bird, Audra Byrd, and Kari Williams held additional non-public meetings among themselves prior to February 15, 2022, to plan for taking the final action, and further communicated their intentions to members of the public.

X
X
X
Violation of RCW 42.30.080(3) and blatant disregard for the guidance given to Washington State School Boards by Washington State School Directors' Association

Held a vote and took the final action of making masks optional in Richland Schools effective immediately despite the fact that such a vote was not included on the agenda.

X
X
X
Violation of 20-05 Governor's Proclamation of State of Emergency and 20-03.7 order of the Secretary of Health, despite guidance provided in an email from Washington State Superintendent of Public Schools Chris Reykdal, saying "Until the statewide mask mandate is eliminated, it continues to be a willful violation of the law to enact board policy or explicit practices that remove masking or allow for noncompliance within your buildings... we have moral and legal obligations to follow the law."
X
X
X
Violation of RCW 28A.150.230.

Voting to make masks optional in Richland Schools effective immediately was a vote that exceeded the powers as a school board.

X
X
X
Violation of RSD Code of Ethics Item 2

2. Uphold and enforce all laws, State Board rules and regulations and court orders pertaining to schools (desired changes should be brought about only through legal and ethical procedures).

X
X
X
Violation of RSD Code of Ethics Item 7

7. Recognize that his/her responsibility is not to run the school, but together with fellow board members, to see that they are well run.

X
X
X
Violation of RSD Code of Ethics Item 8

8. Confine his/her board action to policy making, planning and apprising, and help to frame policies and plans only after the board has consulted those who will be affected by them.

X
X
X
Violation of RSD Code of Ethics Item 14

14. Support and protect school personnel in proper performance of their duties.

X
X
X
Violation of RSD Policies and Procedures, "Powers & Duties of the Board" Item 3

3. Operations Assessment: Generally overseeing district operations and taking such actions as are necessary to assure compliance with law and district policy, as well as the development of the educational program.

X
X
X

Additional Concerns

The following are items of concern that were not included on the original recall petition because they came to light after the recall petition was created.

Audra Byrd Admitted to Destruction of Public Records (April 2, 2022)

Quoted from Tri-City Herald article Richland School board member says she deleted text messages with other board members:

"I have to delete my texts and even apps on a regular basis because I just don't have enough phone storage," Byrd told the Tri-City Herald in a voice message.

The text exchanges showed:

  • Byrd's desire to fire the district's superintendent and "deal with the chaos of the teachers union" rather than return kids to school with masks.
  • Byrd stating she planned to delete her message exchange with Williams.
  • A statement from Byrd that the board needs to find a way to have direct power to discipline district employees and to be able to more tightly control the superintendent's hiring choices.
  • Efforts by Semi Bird to lobby Michael Connors, president of the Kennewick School Board, into voting with board members Micah Valentine and Gabe Galbraith to defy the state's masking mandate, mirroring Richland's actions.
Deleting those messages could be a violation of state law. Judges have interpreted state law to include records produced on personal cellphones and devices when they're being used to do the work of public governance.

Byrd also had been called on the carpet by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal for using her public school district email account to leverage what he deemed a political attack. Reykdal said he felt the statement against him was a violation of ethics.


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