Washougal School Board temporarily discontinues in-person meetings

District reverts back to remote mode after chaos during May 11 board meeting

The Washougal School District has reverted back to remote-only school board meetings following a disruption by audience members that resulted in police action during a May 11 meeting.

“Moving back to the virtual meetings will support meeting the safety restrictions currently in place in Phase 3 for public gatherings,” said Les Brown, the district’s director of communications and technology. “Once the COVID health restrictions and requirements are lifted per the Open Public Meetings Act and it is safe to do so, we look forward to returning to our in-person meetings. Because we don’t know the timing of the changes in the restrictions and requirements, this could happen at any time.”

The change took effect this week, for the school board’s May 25 meeting.

“The meeting location and ways the public can participate in the board’s meeting are posted ahead of each meeting,” Brown said, “and we would encourage patrons and community members to watch for updates on the board meeting page.”

The board, which had been meeting in-person since March 9, ended its May 11 meeting prematurely, later claiming it did so because three women vandalized the administration building and vehicles in the parking lot after being asked to leave the meeting for violating the district’s COVID-19 safety rules.

Washougal Police Department officer Ashley Goulding arrested Tatyana Stepanyuk on charges of disorderly conduct and issued trespass warnings to Stepanyuk and Washougal residents Patricia Bellamy and Melissa Mcilwain.

The Camas School Board posted an “Updated Guidance” list of rules on its website after several audience members refused to wear masks at the board’s first May meeting. The rules state that masks are required inside the board’s meeting room and that the mask mandate is a state — not a district — requirement.