OSD Staff and Student Safety FAQ

Knox 111 Admin Building


Frequently Asked Questions

A survey link was shared at the end of a Zoom informational meeting on September 11 for Capital High School families. A link to that meeting is included below. The meeting was about safety at CHS and the response to two weapons incidents on Wednesday, September 6 and Monday, September 11.


We received hundreds of comments and questions from our community through the survey as well as through emails to district leadership. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions and responses to themes:



NOTE: We will continue to update this FAQ with questions that are submitted. The newest questions will be available at the top of this page.



What is the timing for the possible implementation of an SRO program in OSD?

Now that the Olympia School Board has approved Policy 4311, “School Safety and Security Services Program,” it allows the superintendent to reach out to city officials to formally arrange for and discuss the possible implementation of a school resource officer program under the parameters of the new policy. The superintendent met with the Olympia city manager on September 21, 2023. 


On September 28, 2023, the Olympia School Board approved a charter establishing a School Safety Citizen Advisory Committee. The committee's purpose, as outlined in the charter, is to assist the superintendent in crafting procedures to accompany Policy 4311 that will guide and inform any formal partnership with the school district and the City of Olympia. The committee will also assist the superintendent in crafting a draft Memorandum of Understanding to serve as the springboard for any negotiation between the district and the City of Olympia for any future school/external staff including uniformed officers.


The content and timeline of a proposed MOU is contingent upon negotiations.




Student Discipline/Information and Privacy or FERPA


How do parents/guardians receive additional information regarding students involved in incidents at school, or with a criminal background?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) greatly limits what districts can share about any student. In situations involving weapons or firearms, the normal protocol is emergency expulsions are issued and the school administration follows district and state laws. The Washington Administrative Code or WACS and the Revised Code of Washington or RCW’s give direction to school districts which includes language that a district will expel a student for not less than one year if it is determined that the student possessed a firearm on school premises.
Security Protocols


What safety training do the district and schools have in place for a potential active shooter? Is local law enforcement involved in this protocol?

Our district has adopted the ALICE active shooter response training. All district employees are required to complete ALICE training annually. Schools and support buildings are required to conduct active shooter training twice a year. Law enforcement is not typically involved in these types of training or drills. However, law enforcement is aware and trained on ALICE.


What are the definitions for the various types of emergency safety measures? Who makes that determination?

Olympia School District follows the safety and public health guidelines from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Washington State Department of Health, and the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services.


We have two terms typically referenced in active intruder scenarios. We use "Lockout" and "Lockdown". These are based on our ALICE training. "Lockout" means no one is permitted in or out of the building but students can move about the building normally between classes or to use a restroom. Lockdown" means everyone is sheltering in place, with no movement in or outside of the building.


Every emergency situation is unique and the terminology used is made by building administration, sometimes in conjunction with law enforcement. Any adjustments to either 'Lockout'' or "Lockdown" should come from first responders or the building administrator only. Those adjustments should be treated as one-off scenarios based on the need at that time.


Does the OSD strategic plan, or safety plan address gun violence/prevention?

Each one of our schools and support buildings has an Emergency Operations Plan. Potential gun violence and active shooter situations are addressed in those plans.


Is the installation of metal detectors, x-ray machines or scanners being considered in schools? What about random student bag checks or controlled points of entry to buildings?

The district is always considering better ways to keep our students safe. These options have been discussed in the past and are possibilities for consideration as we move forward.


Student Expulsion


What happens when a student is expelled? How long does the expulsion last and will the student be considered for re-enrollment in our district?

“Expulsion” means a denial of admission to the student’s current school placement in response to a behavioral violation for no longer than the length of one academic term. When risk to public health or safety warrants extending a student’s expulsion, the principal or designee may petition the Superintendent for authorization to exceed the academic term limitation on an expulsion. Re-enrollment and placement decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.


What kind of gun safety education is available to students and families through the district?

Annually we send information home to families and have brochures available in schools about gun safety including:


  • Firearms in the Home (English, Spanish) (Seattle Children’s Hospital Community Safety Education)

  • Teens, Depression and Firearms (English, Spanish) (Seattle Children’s Hospital Community Safety Education)


School-Based Officer Program in Schools (SRO)


What would the process look like to have a school-based officer program at all OSD school buildings? Will this include school hours and after-school activities?

Any resumption of a formal school-based officer program would need to be negotiated between the school district and the Olympia Police Department and be in compliance with state laws. What that would look like would be codified in a memorandum of understanding (MOU).


Would officers be armed and in uniform?

The police department is responsible for the equipping of its officers. Their standards would be considered as part of the school district and police department negotiated MOU.


Why was the school-based officer program paused in June of 2020?

Laws had changed at that time and there was a decision by the board to pause the program until we could ensure compliance with the new law RCW 28A.320.124 . This coincided with school campus closures due to COVID-19.


Should the district choose to reinstate this program, what training and resources will the district and OPD provide to maintain a healthy school-based officer program?

OSPI was tasked with providing training for prospective security and school police officers to comply with RCW 28A.320.124 . The training program for school-based officers, at a minimum, addresses the following 12 mandated training topics:


  • Constitutional and civil rights of children in schools, including state law governing search and interrogation of youth in schools;

  • Child and adolescent development;

  • Trauma-informed approaches to working with youth;

  • Recognizing and responding to youth mental health issues;

  • Educational rights of students with disabilities, the relationship of disability to behavior, and best practices for interacting with students with disabilities;

  • Collateral consequences of arrest, referral for prosecution, and court involvement;

  • Resources available in the community that serve as alternatives to arrest and prosecution and pathways for youth to access services without court or criminal justice involvement;

  • Local and national disparities in the use of force and arrests of children;

  • Deescalation techniques when working with youth or groups of youth;

  • State law regarding restraint and isolation in schools, including RCW 28A.600.485;

  • Bias-free policing and cultural competency, including best practices for interacting with students from particular backgrounds, including English learners, LGBTQ, and immigrants; and,

  • The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requirements include limits on access to and dissemination of student records for non-educational purposes.


If school-based officers return, what steps will be taken to ensure that all students (specifically BIPOC students) feel that their concerns regarding the intersection of racism and police brutality have been addressed?

Part of the mandatory training requires officers to be well-trained in bias-free policing and cultural competency which includes best practices for interacting with students from particular backgrounds, including English learners, LGBTQ, and immigrants. RCW 28A.320.124 requires districts to have a policy/procedure that describes the process for families to file complaints with the school and, when applicable, the local law enforcement agency and a process for investigating and responding to complaints. Safety and security staff working on school property must present to and discuss with students, and distribute to students' families, information about the role and responsibilities of safety and security staff.


Emergency Messaging in Building


Was there information given to students by Capital High School staff during the incidents that contradicted the messaging sent out to families?

 We are not aware of any information given to CHS students, by staff members, that contradicted the modified lockout status passed along by the Principal and OPD.


Was there another incident at CHS on Thursday, September 7, 2023?

There was an altercation after school involving a non-enrolled student and one of our students.


What are the procedures for sharing information with families as events are happening?

When security incidents take place at a school the OSD Communications Department works directly with school administration and the Olympia Police Department to verify the authenticity of the threat. Once these details have been verified communications are then pushed out to all parent/guardians and staff of the impacted schools, alerts are pushed out on school websites and when necessary notices are pushed out on district social media platforms.


School-Based Supports


What supports will be available for district students experiencing trauma or fear after the recent events at Capital High School?

Additional social-emotional support staff were deployed to support CHS counselors and the social worker after each event and are available as needed and as requested by CHS leadership. CHS staff were instructed by the administration to keep a lookout for students and fellow staff members in need of support and send them to support rooms as needed. Messages highlighting these supports were also sent to families.


Are there ongoing mental health supports available for district students?

Yes, we will continue to offer mental health supports to our students in our buildings, as well as to our families. If you visit our Resources for Youth and Families page you will find a number of community resources for both our students' mental and physical safety.


Parent Involvement


How can parents/guardians contribute to building a safer culture within our schools? Are there volunteer opportunities available?

Parents interested in volunteering in our buildings are encouraged to complete the OSD Volunteer Application Form. Capital High School specifically is looking to launch its PODS effort: ‘Parents on Deck at School’ and have a friendly face in the hallways in the morning, at break or at lunchtime. It also is helpful when parents remind and encourage their students that if they see something concerning to report it and to follow all emergency directions from school staff.


Student Safety


Are there any anonymous reporting tools available to students or families?

Yes, Vector Alert is available to all our students. This system allows you to quickly, easily, and anonymously report safety concerns to school officials 24/7/365 by text, email or phone.


Have you considered not allowing backpacks in schools? Do all your schools have lockers available to students?

The district is always considering better ways to keep our students safe. Options like what to do about backpacks have been discussed in the past and are possibilities for consideration as we move forward. Lockers are not currently available for every student in all of our buildings.


Police Presence at CHS Moving Forward


Will there be a continued police presence at Capital High School until a decision regarding a school-based officer program is made?

An Olympia Police Department officer was on the Capital High School campus full-time from September 12-22, 2023. The following week, September 25-29, an OPD officer was on campus three days.

Effective on Monday, October 2, 2023, while officers will not be a regular presence on the CHS campus, OPD will increase its presence in the area around Capital High School, and will do occasional check-ins on the campus. They will also have an officer present at all Capital and Olympia high school home (Ingersoll Stadium) varsity football games for the remainder of this season.


Impact on learning


What is the impact on student learning every time there is a security incident at our schools? How is that learning time recovered?

When Capital High School was put into a modified lockout this allowed learning to continue. Classrooms were secured, with no student traffic and teachers continued their lessons as planned. That being said, the anxiety and fear that comes with emergency responses undoubtedly impact the focus and attention of students on academics.