The two recent gun incidents in Olympia’s Capital High School urged the Olympia School District (OSD) to hold the second reading and adoption of two threat and security-related policies.
The board adopted district policies 3225, School-Based Threat Assessment, and 4311, School Safety and Security Services Program, with some amendments to their language during a board meeting last night, September 14.
Policy 3225 will establish and ensure the training of a multiagency threat assessment team composed of school counselors, social workers, law enforcement, school administration, community resources, special education teachers, and practicing educational staff members.
Meanwhile, Policy 4311 would bring back School Resource Officers (SROs), who are commissioned law enforcement officers assigned to work in schools to build positive relationships with students and address crime and disorder problems occurring in or around K-12 schools.
The policy change occurred because, after only one week of classes, Capital High School already had two gun-related occurrences.
On the first day of school last Wednesday, September 6, a 15-year-old student was arrested for bringing a concealed firearm onto the school property.
Early on Monday morning, five days after the incident, a member of the Capital High School staff was inspecting various locations of the campus when he went into the boy's restroom and saw what appeared to be a gun being passed over a stall.
The employees called the Olympia Police Department immediately, and when the officers showed up, the employees brought out a BB pistol that looked like a handgun.
A 17-year-old adolescent who took the BB pistol within the school grounds was arrested when authorities spoke to the four students who were in the bathroom.
“The second gun incident is unrelated to the first matter last week”, authorities stated.
According to Capital High School officials, none of the two incidents resulted in any injuries.
“We have a strong opening to school thanks to the preparation and hard work of all of our staff, our students, and our families,” Superintendent Patrick Murphy said. “But that reality was overshadowed for many by the two weapon incidents at Capital High School.”
Murphy said that although the events did happen, a school shooting did not take place because OSD ensured emergency procedures were in place.
The recent gun incidents prompted 17 public commenters, a mixture of parents, students, and teachers, to speak during the OSD meeting last night.
Jamie, a teacher and an OSD parent, shared the important role of SROs after she shared her daughter’s sexual harassment experience inside a school campus.
“For 19 years I've witnessed SROs [in] my districts act with compassion and concern for children's adverse childhood experiences. They were critical on the threat assessment team when another student in my daughter's class drew detailed pictures of shooting their teacher in the head and threatened to stab my daughter in a sexually aggressive manner.’’
“Two years ago, the staff and parents of Capital were asking for the return of the SROs. OPD has been willing to partner with those during this entire time but OSD is stonewalled with excuses as to why not. And now we're here, said Megan, another parent. “To say I'm frustrated is an understatement, especially given that our surrounding districts have somehow managed to pull this off quite successfully.”
Wendy, another parent, scrutinized the recency of OSD policies and pleaded for their consideration of safety.
“The policy is three years out of date. And I wonder if our school district is out of compliance with state law because that safety is not in place,” Wendy said. “Please, remember that you are serving our students, the parents here, the guardians, our community, and we want to make sure that we don't end up with a school shooting.”
Julian, a junior student from Avanti High School, stated that he fears for the safety of black people like him and the undocumented students if schools will have SROs back inside campuses.
“I am a student and not at all comfortable with police in the same office [as] me, not because I'm doing anything illegal, but because I know men wearing that same uniform in that same position of power have unjustly murdered, to arrest my brothers and sisters,” said Julian.
Matthew, an OSD parent and former safety and security consultant, lauded the board for its highly trained staff who handled the gun situations.
“I think a lot of people here and across the community see the incidences that happened at Capital High School as a failure, and from a security consulting standpoint, these were two success stories,” said Matthew. “When I was a consultant, this is always what we wanted– highly trained, hyper-aware staff that are encouraged [in] recording and investigating suspicious behavior.
“I praise this, the school district, for instilling that in the staff and having those staff available to do that,” added Matthew.
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