New protocol established for public comment at board meetings

Group photo of Olympia School Board standing in front of a wall of student artwork

The Olympia School Board has revised its protocol for hearing public comment at regular board meetings.

Effective in January 2023, OSD students, speaking on any topic, and members of the public wishing to speak to the school board regarding an item on the meeting agenda, will be given priority to address the board during “Public Comment: Items related to the agenda” at the beginning of each regular board meeting prior to the meeting’s reports.

Public comments on topics not included on the meeting’s agenda will be welcome during “Public Comment: Other” scheduled at the end of the meeting after individual board member comments and student representative reports.

Depending on the number of people speaking, each speaker on the public comment list will have up to three (3) minutes to speak.

Effective February 8, 2023, if more than 20 people sign up to speak, the board may shorten the amount of time to comment. The board president will review comment topics and determine a speaking order which may, depending on the number of speakers, include all speakers during the first “Public Comment: Items related to the agenda” time.

Board President Darcy Huffman said this protocol gives the board the opportunity to:

  • Increase efficiency by focusing on agenda items, allowing us to conduct board and district business in a timely, fair, respectful and responsible manner.
  • Prioritize student voice.
  • Respect staff in attendance who are there to present an agenda item.
  • Consider our student representatives’ time commitment.
  • Hear and value all community voices without time limits or interruptions.

To review the Audience Participation Policy, visit OSD Board Policy 1430.

Effective February 8, 2023, the superintendent’s office will accept sign-ups for the public comment list from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. the day before the regular board meeting, which is usually scheduled the second and fourth Thursdays of each month unless noted otherwise (holiday). Sign-ups to comment in-person or via Zoom will only be accepted through this sign-up process.

The final list of public comment participants will be posted by 5 p.m. the day before the meeting in BoardDocs on the specific meeting page in the “Opening” category under the Public Comment section.


  • Only the person who plans to speak to the board may request a spot on the list to speak. You cannot request a spot or speak at the board meeting on behalf of someone else.
  • If complete information is not provided, you will not be included on the list to speak. The Superintendent’s Office will not follow up to obtain correct information or tell you where you are on the list.
  • Public comments are not accepted during a board work session.
  • To request disability accommodations, please call the board clerk three days before the meeting date at (360) 596-6114. Persons with speech or hearing disabilities may call via Washington Relay at 711 or 800-833-6388.

Equity Policy Stakeholder Focus Groups Launch Kicks Off January 2023

OSD Equity Focus Groups graphic

The OSD Equity Policy Steering Committee invites you to host or participate in a focus group to share your thoughts, ideas, and recommendations. The information collected will inform the district’s plan for delivering education and services in a culturally appropriate and just environment.

Are you able to provide insights, unique perspectives, and personal experiences on the topic of equity? If yes, then we invite you to lead a focus group!

To make the process go smoothly, we have a focus group moderator toolkit that has valuable information like:

  • Planning the Discussion,
  • Reviewing the Process,
  • Setting Norms,
  • A script to guide the conversation, complete with questions,
  • And how to follow up with participants.

Please visit the OSD Equity Policy Development webpage for more information or select one of the links below:

Knox Administrative Center: Private Art Exhibition on Jan. 12

Photo by Steve Johnson on

The Olympia School District art department will host a private art exhibition for the artists, their families and the OSD School Board at the Knox Administration Center on Thursday, January 12, at 5 p.m. This exhibition will celebrate the beautiful pieces on display in the viewing gallery located directly outside the boardroom.

The pieces on display include students from the following schools; Garfield ES, Lincoln ES, LP Brown ES, Jefferson MS and Avanti HS. Immediately following the exhibition (at 6 p.m.) the Olympia School Board will be appreciated in honor of School Board Recognition Month.

The 6 p.m. School Board Recognition followed by the 6:30 p.m. School Board Meeting will be Livestream and in-person in the Boardroom at the Knox Administrative Center located at 111 Bethel Street NE, Olympia, WA. This is a public meeting and the community is welcome to attend.

Additional Board Meeting details

January is School Board Recognition Month

Group photo of Superintendent Murphy, school board members, and students smiling for the camera along with OHS Principal Matt Grant and four students recognized at a recent board meeting

Every January school districts across the state and nation honor their board of directors during School Board Recognition Month.

The Olympia School District will recognize its school board with a special program near the start of the meeting on Thursday, January 12, 2023. The recognition begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the regular board meeting.

The board recognition will be held in person at the Knox Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506 and via Zoom.

This year marks the 28th year of the annual observance initiated by the National School Boards Association in 1995.

Thank you President Darcy Huffman, Vice President Hilary Seidel, Directors Scott Clifthorne, Maria Flores and Talauna Reed, and Student Representatives Rahma Gaye, Ali Owen, Ru’ya Russell and Christine Zhang.

Equity Policy focus groups to begin in early November

Blank profiles of people, including adults and children, whose silhouettes are featured in different colors

The following is submitted by Ryan Howland, OSD director of projects and grants. Howland supports the work of the Equity Policy Steering Committee along with Facilitator Kimberlee Armstrong, Ed.D.

District policy is the cornerstone of implementing systemic change within a school district. We are closer to creating a district Equity Policy that uniquely represents all students, staff and families in Olympia.

The OSD Equity Policy Steering Committee (EPSC) is launching student-first and community-driven Equity Policy Focus Groups, starting with student-first focus groups in early November. Students, employees or community members who would like to host a focus group and share the information collected with the district have three options:

  1. Invite District Equity Focus Group Team members to moderate a focus group at a mutually agreed upon time and location;
  2. Invite District Equity Focus Group Team members to co-moderate a focus group on-site; OR,
  3. Self-facilitate a focus group and share data gathered with OSD.

Self-facilitated focus group moderators will have access to an EPSC Focus Group Toolkit, which provides an outline for how to lead a focus group along with important considerations from subject matter experts. Focus group moderators may also attend evening sessions with facilitator Kimberlee Armstrong, Ed.D., to receive additional training and preparation and have questions answered before their focus group takes place.

Stay tuned for more information about the Equity Policy Development process, including how to sign up for a focus group. Information is also available on the Equity Policy Development webpage on the district website.

Please send questions to and someone will contact you as soon as possible.

Feedback sought by November 18 for two new board policies

Strips of colored paper with "Thank You" in various languages

We invite OSD employees to provide feedback about two new board policies that went before the Olympia School Board for first reading last month and are expected to return for second reading in December.

Please review the following two new policies and procedures and share any feedback by November 18, 2022:

Language Access Policy 4218 focuses on increasing language access in public schools. It supports the district’s commitments to improving meaningful, two-way communication and promoting access to district programs, services and activities for students and their families. The policy and procedure references oral interpretation and written translation and calls for a formalized Language Access Plan and annual self-assessment of the plan beginning in the 2023-24 school year. You can see a copy of the policy and procedure on the Board Policy Review page.

Effective Communication Policy 4217 is focused on serving families/community members who request assistive listening, vision or speech aids or services for school district meetings, programs, activities or events. A copy of the policy and procedure, as wells as a form for requesting the aids/services, is also posted on the Board Policy Review page.

To provide feedback, please email

School board appoints Talauna Reed to District 2 board director position

The Olympia School Board has unanimously agreed to appoint Talauna Reed to fill the District 2 board director position vacated by Justin McKaughan, who resigned effective August 31, 2022. The board voted on the appointment following an executive session at the October 13, 2022 board meeting. 

Reed will take the oath of office during the next board meeting on Thursday, October 27. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Knox Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA, 98506. She will serve a one-year term through December 2023. 

Reed is the Lead Outreach and Advocacy Navigator at Interfaith Works where she works with unhoused community members. In that capacity, Reed facilitates training in Cultural Diversity, de-escalation, restorative justice models, anti-racism and trauma-informed care across multiple organizations and in collaboration with other Thurston County providers. She facilitates meetings in the community where she educates audiences with tools for dismantling white supremacy in order to create a more equitable society. 

Reed has two children who attended Olympia schools. She has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and was named a YWCA “Womxn of Achievement” in 2020 as part of the organization’s annual Olympia event. The YWCA describes the award as a way to amplify and celebrate inspiring South Sound community members as part of its collective work to bring about racial and gender justice. 

Applications open for people interested in filling the school board Director District 2 seat

Students kneel on round to paint wooden board for a fence. Message on left of photo shows OSD logo and the title Olympia School Board Vacancy

The Olympia School District Board of Directors is seeking candidates interested in filling the vacant board position representing Director District 2.

The seat was vacated on August 31, 2022 by Justin McKaughan, who moved out of District 2. McKaughan was elected to the Olympia School Board in 2019. His four-year term expires in 2023. Board policy states the vacancy will be filled by board appointment.

Interested applicants may fill out and submit an online application formThe deadline to submit an application is 5 p.m. on Monday,  September 26, 2022.

More information, including a link to view the District 2 boundary map, is available on the District 2 Director Application Process webpage

Huffman named new school board vice president; recruitment to begin for District 2 seat

Board members, including student representatives, make comments during June 2022 board meeting

Darcy Huffman, who joined the Olympia School Board in December 2021, is the new board vice president and will serve in that role until the next school board reorganization in December 2022.

Huffman assumed the role of vice president at the June 23, 2022 regular board meeting following a unanimous vote by the board. Previously, the role was held by Director Justin McKaughan, who recently announced his resignation as a board director, effective August 31, 2022. McKaughan announced he will move out of District 2 and will no longer be eligible to serve on the board after August.

McKaughan was elected to the Olympia School Board in 2019. His four-year term expires in 2023. The board will follow district policy, which states that the vacancy be filled by board appointment.

President Maria Flores noted that the board has 90 days to appoint someone to fill McKaughan’s vacancy after his departure on August 31, 2022. The board is currently in the planning phase of the recruitment process for the District 2 board seat.

Flores added that the board will receive applications from qualified individuals interested in filling the District 2 seat until the next regularly-scheduled board election. Details about the application process will be announced in district communications.

Congratulations to OSD Teacher of the Year Carolyn Gilman

Superintendent Patrick Murphy, OHS English Teacher Carolyn Gilman, and OHS Principal Matt Grant are joined by the OSD School Board in a posed photo after the OSD Teacher of the Year recognition at the Feb. 24 board meeting.

Congratulations to Olympia High School English teacher Carolyn Gilman, who has been named this year’s Olympia School District Teacher of the Year.

Gilman’s colleagues rose to their feet and erupted in applause and cheers when Superintendent Patrick Murphy made the surprise announcement during an Olympia High staff meeting. Watch video of the surprise announcement

Gilman started teaching in Olympia School District in the 2002-03 school year at Washington Middle School. She moved the following year to Olympia High School where she has been teaching ever since. She is a National Board Certified Teacher.

The school board presented Gilman with an etched plaque at the February 24 board meeting. Principal Matt Grant joined Gilman at the meeting and shared about her many contributions to Olympia High School. Her family, and several of her students, also attended the board recognition.

In his nomination letter, Grant wrote, “She has been a culture changer in our school who has helped many students find their voice and place in our school community.  I have been impressed with her engaging and creative instructional skills, her ability to find extensions outside the classroom, and her knack to inspire students to find their voice through speaking and writing.”

Congratulations Carolyn!