Recall petitions against three members of the Central Valley School District board of directors were rejected Monday in Spokane County Superior Court.
In an oral decision, Judge Harold Clarke III ruled that the petition filed by Rob Linebarger of Spokane Valley was factually and legally insufficient.
Linebarger, representing a dissident parent’s group, was seeking approval to begin signature collection for a possible recall vote against board President Debra Long and board members Cynthia McMullen and Keith Clark.
Most of the allegations center on the board’s handling of masking and vaccine mandates in the 15,000-student district. But the petition seems more aimed at masking and vaccine rules imposed statewide.
The petition also claims that Long has lived outside the district for the past nine years, which would be a violation of district regulations.
However, Clarke found no grounds for a recall petition.
“This should come as no surprise,” said Spokane attorney Paul Clay, who represented the school board members.
“The judge dismissed every single recall charge,” Clay said. “He found that every charge was legally inadequate and factually inadequate.”
The petition, filed Sept. 25 by Linebarger and the Central Valley School District Concerned Parents Coalition, accused Long, McMullen and Clark of “misuse of power and wrongful use of lawful authority … by mandating the use and placement of a medical device, specifically a mask …” and “have not provided the necessary documentation related to the side effects of prolonged application of the medical device for children and adults forced to wear the mask nearly continuously for up to 8 hours a day.”
Public health experts have largely recommended masks be used in school to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially among children who can’t take the vaccine. Among organizations that recommend masks be required in schools is the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The controversy over masks erupted during a board meeting on Aug. 23, which Long ended after many attendees refused to wear masks.
Reacting to the ruling on Facebook, McMullen posted “Today, the bullies did not win.”
In an email statement, Superintendent Ben Small said the district was “pleased” by the ruling.
“During this time period, our School Board has remained focused, diligently working to meet the needs of our CVSD students,” Small said.
None of the three targeted board members was up for re-election this year. Two other seats on the five-member board are being contested in next week’s election.
Linebarger said he appreciated Clarke’s “thoughtful consideration of the issues.”
“And while the parents, grandparents and citizens in the District that supported this effort are disappointed, they accept the court’s decision as is their civil duty to do and look forward to next Tuesday’s general election results,” Linebarger said.
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