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‘Crimes against the children’: Kennewick school official tells two Richland leaders to resign

May 13, 2022 Updated Mon., May 16, 2022 at 7:43 a.m.

By Eric Rosane Tri-City Herald

RICHLAND – One of the Kennewick School Board’s newest members called this week for the removal of two of the longest serving members on the Richland School Board.

Micah Valentine, who was elected in November to the Kennewick School Board during a wave of frustration over masks in public schools, made the remarks during the Richland board’s public commenting session Tuesday.

“My name is Micah Valentine, and I am in full support of Audra (Byrd) and Semi Bird. I also think that Rick (Jansons) and Jill (Oldson) should resign from office because of their many crimes against the children of Richland,” Valentine said. His comments were met with a burst of applause from some attending the meeting.

“The radical left is losing their minds because the one thing they desperately want more than anything is being stripped away, and that is absolute control,” he continued. “The radical left of the union’s stranglehold on the schools and the parents is slipping out of their grasps and they’re incensed and they are outraged.”

He went on to say that Semi Bird and Audra Byrd are representing “the voice of the parents,” and that the ‘woke left’ is attempting to overturn the election, a reference to the ongoing recall against the three school board members, Bird, Byrd and Kari Williams.

“Remember, these kids do not belong to you, they do not belong to the teacher’s union – these kids were given to parents from almighty God,” Valentine continued.

His address to the board was punctuated with a “thank you” to the three school board members.

On Thursday, Valentine told the Herald in a phone call that he wanted to show support as a citizen to the three school board members and to voice his opinion on the recall effort.

“It’s terrible,” he said. “I kind of liken it to packing the courts… They’re basically saying the judges in there are not on our side. And because they’re not on our side, we need to pack the courts so we can win.”

“Yes, Kennewick elected me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about Richland or Pasco,” he continued.

When asked to clarify his allegations of “crimes” Oldson and Jansons committed, Valentine said it was their vote to keep students wearing masks and to fall in line with the state’s indoor mask mandate.

He also accused Jansons, a well-known Republican, of being a leftist and supporting the recall.

Last month, a Herald review of Richland School Board text messages showed efforts by Semi Bird to lobby Michael Connors, president of the Kennewick School Board, into voting with Valentine and Gabe Galbraith to defy the state’s masking mandate, mirroring Richland’s actions.

The Kennewick board did not vote on a similar action.

School board tensions

Valentine’s unusual address Tuesday to a peer board comes as tensions at the Richland School District hit new heights.

After a raucous April meeting, one where an attendee got in a physical altercation with an employee, the district had to issue a trespass notice and was forced to hire a security company to attend school board meetings.

Valentine decided to run for the Kennewick School Board last year after growing concerned about the “fallout and depression” students experienced from not learning in-person.

He’s been vocal about his opposition to Washington state’s mask mandate and believes critical race theory – a law school term that’s been used in recent months by some conservatives to mean an effort to rewrite American history – shouldn’t be taught in schools.

Kennewick School Board members at their last meeting said they planned to discuss CRT at their June board retreat and possibly take a stance.

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