Wenatchee School Board Declines To Discipline Member Thomas
The Wenatchee School Board will not discipline or remove board member Katherine Thomas over her residency.
Board President Maria Iniguez said no action would be taken at Tuesday’s meeting after a resolution to vote on removing Thomas was introduced and then tabled at a meeting last month.
Thomas lashed out at fellow board members Tuesday for even considering the move.
"I'm embarrassed by it," Thomas said, "not because I've done anything wrong, but because members of this board are so politicized and petty that they would waste time, attention and worst of all, the district's money, the students' money, taxpayers' money, on this, frankly, garbage."
Thomas has attended most board meetings remotely after she and her family relocated to Texas, although she still says her residency and voter registration is in Wenatchee.
Iniguez specified that a procedure had been followed in which she and School Superintendent Kory Kalahar met with Thomas about the issue with Thomas Oct. 16. Iniguez said she’d asked three questions of Thomas about residency, voting status and whether Thomas thought she’d violated board policy.
When Thomas restated her claims of residency and voter registration, and said she had not violated policy, Iniguez said no further action would be taken.
Still, the board did discuss whether to clarify its policy for board member absences and remote attendance Tuesday, which drew sharp criticism from Thomas.
"It's no secret that the entire reason this policy was put forward was because of my remote attendance, and it was part of the attempt to kick me out of the board as the three of you were attempting to do so," Thomas said.
Thomas was referring to Iñiguez and fellow board members Laura Jaecks and Martin Barron, who last month discussed the resolution to vote on Thomas' removal.
The other board member, Julie Norton, objected to resolution which had been introduced by Jaecks.
For her part, Thomas mentioned during Tuesday's meeting that there are numerous other school board members across the state, "snowbirds", that leave their districts for extended periods and attend meetings remotely.
Thomas is serving out her term on the Wenatchee School Board. She announced months ago that she would not seek election within the new board arrangement in which members are elected to four separate positions tied to geographic location within the city and one at large position.
All five school board positions are on the ballot in November.
There are just two more school board meetings this year, and the new and reconfigured board will be sworn in in December.
Thomas was fined $150 by the Washington Public Disclosure Commission earlier this month for not properly filing a 2022 personal financial affairs statement.
10 of the Best School Districts in Washington State Revealed
Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals