Lawsuit Filed Against Richland School District And Board Alleging OPMA Violations



A lawsuit was filed in Benton County Superior court this week against the Richland WA school district, school board and three individual members of the school board, alleging violations of the Open Public Meetings Act. 

NWPB’S Dori Luzzo Gilmour reports 


Arthur West is the plaintiff in the lawsuit. In his court documents he alleges the three school board members, Audra Byrd, Semi Bird, and Kari Williams, violated the OPMA when they voted to ignore the Mask Mandate for public schools. The vote came at a meeting where the mandate issue was not on the agenda. West calls himself an open government activist. West says the law is clear. 

“For special meetings, they have to specify, they have to have a notice posted 24 hours ahead of time, specify the business that is transacted, and no final actions can be taken on anything that isn’t specified in a notice,” West says.

West said the notice didn’t specify anything about the Mask Mandate. Now that the lawsuit is filed, Defendants have 20 days to respond. After the next legal steps in the case, a hearing could happen in May. 

Each violation could result in a fine of Five hundred dollars.  West believes this action is a perfect example of why OPMA should be followed. 

“Only the ones that are incompetent or are trying to do something improper that habitually run into violations and in this case, I would tack it down to they, were trying to do something improper,” West says.

West says that the school board members could also be recalled if found in violation. 

In a statement, the Richland School district says it’s are aware of the lawsuit. 

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