Emails Reveal Potential Violations By Richland School Board Director

Green blue brick School building
Image from Flickr Creative Commons Justine Warrington


NWPB’s Dori Luzzo Gilmour reports on revealed emails that could show potential ethics and state mandate violations by an RSD Board Director / Runtime – 1:55


Richland WA School Board Director Audra Byrd was using her district provided email account to direct staff on how and when they were to discipline students in possible violation of ethics standards and the state mandate. Byrd went as far as to tell the school leadership how to do their jobs. 

Byrd sent a series of emails to Three Rivers HomeLink, where her own children attend school, using her RSD provided email to push COVID misinformation and direct staff on discipline. Byrd told her children and other children to carry water bottles all day so they could say they were drinking and avoid wearing masks in school. In a series of emails, Byrd told the principals “Instead of us all constantly catering to the 5% of students who could be hurt from COVID, how about we cater to the 95% of students who are being hurt from masks.” 

Former School Board Director Heather Cleary left office after serving sixteen years in the Richland School District. Cleary says the remedy for fixing what she calls the “chaos” that is happening in Richland is by recalling the board members that have violated the state law. Cleary says the role of a board member is to: 

 “….represent the community, uphold and enforce the laws…that is very clear in Code of Ethics of the Board…your responsibility is NOT to run the schools but together with fellow board members, see that they are well run.”

Cleary also said that it is difficult if not impossible for staff to work under the conditions that this school board has put them in. 

 “When you have a board that is so crazy…at some point you are going to be in the business of having to hire a future superintendent,” she said. “The unintended consequence, words spread, that there is a crazy board in Richland or Richland has a real unpredictable board…”

Directing staff is an absolute “no no”, Cleary said.  She says the focus of a school board must be on the students. Right now, she says, it is all crisis management with no focus on students. 

The School District says that school leaders always followed the state mandates regarding COVID protocols and directed staff to do the same. 


Email from Quinn Donlon, Assistant Principal at Three Rivers Homelink School to staff:

From: Quinn Donlon Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2022 3:23:50 PM 

To: Amy Meredith ; Bev Beierle ; Carolyn Sturges ; Cheryl Walter ; Glenda Schlahta ; Jessica Jones ; Jodi Mcdowell ; Katie Koegler ; Luisa Campbell ; Penny Finch ; Quinn Donlon ; Randy Fairfield ; Tamra Aichele ; Tara Affholter ; Tyler Reeser ; Veronica Kenney ; Amelia Larson ; Amy Johnson ; Amy Taylor ; Candi Thorson ; Cristi Hamilton ; Heidi Faulk ; Jackie Martinez ; Jacquelin Hoyt ; Jeannine Carter ; Joshua Darby ; Julie Schroeder ; Kristine Graham ; Lisa Merkley ; Luisa Campbell ; Melissa Lehrschall ; Micaela Leinonen ; Mike Franco ; Quinn Donlon ; Rosemary Newbry ; Shelly Baker ; Tyler Reeser 

Subject: Masks in Class are still required 

Hello everyone, It has come to my attention that there are a few middle school students who are starting to give a little push back with wearing the masks while inside. Please know that you may still have to remind our students to wear masks while indoors and especially when in class. At lunchtime, we have a little more wriggle room, as the students are eating or drinking. However, if the students leave their eating areas and are walking around the building, I have politely asked them if they have their masks and ask them nicely to put one on. We have lots of masks up front still and need to all do our part to make sure that the students follow the guidelines. If you have any students who are not wearing masks while in class, you need to please ask them to wear them. You of course may still take students outside as much as you can during the period to give them mask breaks. If you have any students who are purposefully being defiant about the masks, after you nicely redirect them, then this constitutes a disruption of the educational process which is a discipline violation, and you can please let me know and I can have a talk with them. If it is one of those things where you just have to remind students and then they quickly put it on, then that is not a big deal. We do have off-site as an option for our HomeLink students if they feel that the masks are too much for their student to handle being onsite. Please let me know if you have any follow up questions. Thanks, Quinn Donlon, Assistant Principal Three Rivers HomeLink “A Parent Partnership for a Tailored Education 

Email from RSD Director Audra Byrd to Quinn Donlon in response to his email:

From: Audra Byrd Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2022 5:05 PM 

To: Quinn Donlon Subject: 

Fwd: Masks in Class are still required 

Dear Mr. Donlon, I just wanted to let you know that not wearing masks cannot be a “discipline violation” according to our district and OSPI guidelines. I have attached the OSPI guidance. The most we can do is ask students to comply and if they refuse to comply we can ask parents to pick them up if we want to. All administrators and teachers have the choice of how to administer these ridiculous and unnecessary mandates, but we cannot administer discipline for simply not complying.



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