Message to Families - January 19, 2022

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Message to Families - January 19, 2022
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Hello Olympia School District families,


I recognize this is a late hour to be receiving this communication, and some of you may not read this until tomorrow, but I did not want to delay in getting out this message. If you have not heard, there was a local media report today of a video and audio clip taken at a basketball game this last weekend between Capital High School and River Ridge High School. This video/audio clip was shared on social media, circulated, and part of a story on KIRO news radio.


In the video clip, one of our students is heard making derogatory and racist remarks about a River Ridge High School basketball player. Specifically, the term “gorilla” is used to describe the opposing player who is Black; comparing Black people to monkeys has a long, sinister, racist history in our society.


When something of this nature happens in a school district or organization, we sometimes hear responsive statements that the act “is not who we are,” or that it is “not a reflection of what we stand for.” I do not subscribe to those viewpoints. This incident and others, like those reported in the article, are committed by those of us in this community. We are the community. All of us as staff, parents and students; we are the Olympia School District and collectively we determine what we stand for.


As the superintendent, it is incumbent upon me to work with our school leaders and staff to ensure that when student actions cause harm, there is accountability, learning and an opportunity to restore and make amends with those who have been hurt. This incident was promptly investigated, discipline was issued and restorative work is ongoing.


At the same time, incidents like these do harm to our entire community. However, the brunt of the blow can be especially felt by our community members who are Black. It is also my primary responsibility to ensure that we relentlessly pursue the creation of an anti-racist Olympia School District where awareness, compassion and celebration of our diversity is of greatest importance. It is in such an environment where racist ideas and acts would have no fertile ground to grow.


There is critical work we have done and there are steps we are taking in our constant push to be better. But tonight, I wanted to take this opportunity to use this hurtful situation as a call to propel our work forward, recognize and personally apologize for the harm that has been done, and commit to continuously improving.


Lastly and importantly, Capital High School staff will be available to provide extra support for any students who have been impacted and need assistance. Likewise, if your student attends any other school in the district and needs support, please let our staff know.


Thank you,


Patrick Murphy



To read the message from Capital High School Principal Rosemarie Burke follow the link below: