Removal of concrete letters at Richland's Fran Rish Stadium and Carmichael Hill was handled poorly and the Richland School District will seek community input on how to replace the symbols, officials said Saturday.
A letter, signed by Richland School Board Chairman Rick Jansons and Superintendent Rick Schulte, was posted to the district’s website at www.rsd.edu and sent to the Herald.
“We showed poor judgment in not realizing the significance of these letters to alumni, current students and the community,” the letter said. “In hindsight, we should have let all stakeholders know about our intentions months ago and asked for their input. We could have done better and should have done better.”
The “R” and “H” representing Richland and Hanford high schools at the stadium were removed Thursday, while the “C” for Carmichael Middle School was taken out last week.
The letters had been in place for decades, with the “R” poured by students in 1967.
School officials said the letters were removed partially because they were a safety hazard but also so improvements can be made to the visitor side of Fran Rish, which will include changing the hillside where the “R” and “H” were set.
News of the removal of the letters incited outrage from people across the Tri-Cities.
Hundreds of angry comments were left on social media criticizing the district. Jansons said the board received several emails in the past few days and the district’s administrative offices have had numerous calls.
It was wrong for the district to not inform the community of the plans, Jansons told the Herald.
“I liked the letters. My kids played on them,” he said. “I didn’t see a safety issue with them.”
School leaders invited the public to provide feedback on how to replace the letters by contacting Schulte.
It’s too early to say what new symbols could be installed to replace the letters, Jansons said, but the district is committed to remedying the situation as best as it can.
“We need to make it right and involve the people,” he said.