Richland School Board Updates

Richland School Board Updates

(Sept. 21, 2023) - At a Special Board Meeting on Sept. 20, Bonnie Mitchell was selected for Position #1 (term expires November 2025) and Brianna Watson was selected for Position #4 (term expires November 2023). The new board members will be sworn in at the Regular School Board Meeting on Sept. 26.


(Sept. 18, 2023) - Applicants for Position #1 and #4 will be interviewed during a Special School Board Meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. The school board decided to interview all candidates that applied for each position. The applicants are:

Position #1 (term expires November 2025)

  • Ron Higgins
  • Heather Cleary
  • Bonnie Mitchell
  • Tony Gonzalez

Position #4 (term expires November 2023)

  • Brianna Watson
  • Gary Wargo
  • Richard Raymond
  • Katrina Waters
  • Jeffrey Dennison


(Sept. 12, 2023) - We have received several comments relating to the timeline to appoint new board members to fill the open positions. There are different policies and RCW’s surrounding how the vacancy was created.


According to RSD Policy 1113, if a director submits a written resignation, the board shall consider the resignation at its next regularly scheduled meeting. At that next meeting, the board shall accept the resignation by formal action and declare the board position vacant unless the resignation is withdrawn any time prior to the board’s action. This is considered the point of vacancy, not when the letter of resignation was submitted.

At the point of vacancy the school board has 90 days to fill the open positions.

RCW 28A.343.370 states that should any board of directors, for whatever reason, fail to fill a vacancy within 90 days of the creation of the vacancy, members of the Educational Service District Board will fill the vacancy on the district’s behalf.


Three vacancies were created on August 15, the day primary election recall results were certified.

The school board directors then had 90 days from August 15 to fill the open positions. Because only two board members remained on the board, ESD 123 had to appoint one board member to create a quorum and conduct school board business. Lindsay Lightner was appointed to Position #3 by the ESD 123 on August 29 and sworn in the to the Richland School Board on August 31.

At this time, Position 1 and 4 are still vacant. To comply with RCW 28A.343.370 the board must fill these positions by November 13 (which is 90 days after the August 15 certification). The general election is November 7, however, results will not be certified until November 28 at the earliest, as verified by the Benton County Auditor’s office. This puts the district 15 days out of compliance with the State.

RCW 29A.60.281(1) provides guidance when an election becomes effective stating, “A person elected to the office of school director begins his or her term of office at the first official meeting of the board of directors after certification of the election results.” For board members elected during the General Election, this date would be November 28 (date of certification of results and the first official meeting). To be in compliance with state law we must appoint two new board members before November 13.


(Sept. 8, 2023) - The application window has closed for Position #1 and #4. 


(Sept. 1, 2023) - The Richland School District Board of Directors is preparing to appoint two new board members to fulfill the terms for Position #1 and #4. Per Washington State law RCW 28A.343.370, the RSD Board must “fill any [board] vacancy within ninety days from the creation of such vacancy.”

RSD Board of Directors established the following timeline for appointing the final two board members to complete its five-member board:

  • Friday, September 1, 12:00 PM – Richland School District opens application window for Board Position #1 and #4.
  • Friday, September 8, 12:00 PM – Deadline for submission of applications (both hard copy and electronic submissions) for the Richland School Board Position #1 and #4.
  • Tuesday, September 12, 5:00 PM – RSD School Board Executive Session and Regular Meeting:
    • 5:00 PM – RSD board members meet in executive session to review and screen applications.
    • 6:30 PM – RSD’s regularly scheduled board meeting begins. Board members announce the top 2-5 candidates for each position they have selected to move forward to interview.
  • Wednesday, September 20, 5:00 PM – RSD School Board Special Meeting
    • The top 2-5 candidates for Richland School Board Position #1 and top 2-5 candidates for Position #4 will be interviewed during the open public meeting.
    • RSD board members will recess into executive session to review and evaluate the qualifications of the applicants. (RCW 42.30.110)
    • RSD board members will return to the open public meeting to vote on and announce their selected candidates.
  • Tuesday, September 26, 6:30 PM – RSD School Board Regular Meeting
    • The newly appointed Richland School Board members for Position #1 and Position #4 will be sworn in.
  • Tuesday, November 7 – General Election – Voters in the Richland School District will elect school board positions with expiring terms: Richland School Board Position #3 (previously appointed by ESD 123) and Position #4.

After being sworn in on Sept. 26, 2023, the newly appointed member to Richland School Board Position #4 “shall serve until the next regular school district election, at which time a successor shall be elected for the unexpired term.” (RCW 28A.343.370 (2)) This means that the appointed Richland Position #4 board member will serve until that position’s term expires on November 28, 2023.  During the November 7 General Election, voters residing within the Richland School District boundaries will have the opportunity to cast their vote for who will fill Position #4.

The term for Richland School Board Position #1 expires in November 2025. The newly appointed board member for this position shall serve until that time.

Interested members of the public who reside within Richland School District boundaries may apply for either open position, but not both. Applications will be available on the RSD website ( and in-person at the RSD Teaching, Learning and Administration Center located at 6972 Keene Road in West Richland. Questions about applications can be emailed to