Public shows up to comment on Talauna Reed’s appointment to Olympia School Board

By Father Jade Asumbrado

Several people registered and attended in person to comment at last night’s Olympia School District (OSD) board meeting; most spoke about the board’s decision to appoint Talauna Reed to the board.

Maria Flores, president of the Olympia Schools Board, chaired the meeting and said the deadline was imposed because 31 people signed up to speak at the meeting. The board specified a maximum of three minutes per person.

Comments were both positive and negative — some expressing concern about Reed’s story, while others defended her abilities.


One commentator, Margaret, who has been an early childhood educator for 25 years, commented on Reed’s videos of hate speech against police officers.

“I feel [she] would be the wrong person to sit in any seat in the OSD. My concern would be that hatred would spread to our children who are so easily influenced,” Margaret said.

“I don’t think Reed’s record makes her fit for the board,” said Candace Mercer, a public commentator. She said her concern wasn’t based on racism but on that [alleged] Records related to a public figure like Reed.

A parent and Marine Corps veteran, Randy, added his comment to the board, explaining how the board appointed someone who can lead to violence.

“Last year we had student attacks on students. This is not acceptable. We had vandalism at the schools, toilets or walks. Having someone say “F the police” who doesn’t see our students’ minds and shoots in the wrong direction – the direction of the violence. We don’t have to go there. We need to go somewhere peaceful,” Randy said.

Another parent, Frank, raised the issue of background checks not being given more importance in board appointments.

“All teachers, [and] Administrators must pass a background check. We have background checks for reasons how on earth don’t those standards apply here too? said Frank.

Community and minority groups support

Meredith, a high school student, expressed her support for Reed: “Miss Reed has come under particular scrutiny. I looked up to her as a community organizer and inspirational woman who does the kind of work to help underserved people and create a positive change that I want to make in my future.”

“She is exactly the impact the district needs to advance its goal of creating challenging opportunities for all students in a changing and diverse world, to nurture a supportive environment and to bring about equitable justice,” added Meredith added.

Another participant, Jessica, expressed her support for the appointment by expressing her sympathy to Reed since the death of her aunt.

“I’m sorry you had to endure a racist and reactionary backlash. I have the feeling this is the invisible hatred of racism. On the bright side, however, the fight for accountability and justice has brought many of us together,” Jessica said.

Jeff, a parent and teacher who is a member of the Thurston County Democrats, praised the board’s decision.

“I think it shows that the Board is serious about tackling issues of racism, sexism and homophobia in our schools. And also shows your commitment to building a truly just system,” Jeff said.

One middle school teacher, Patty, expressed her support: “I support an equitable and diverse school board. I want to be part of a progressive school that speaks about racism, white supremacy, homophobia and sexism. I want our students to have a broad knowledge in front of them. I want them to have the skills to be successful, including critical thinking skills.”

Superintendent’s response

During his part, Superintendent Patrick Murphy addressed the general public who attended the session.

“I appreciate and thank the great majority of people who have spoken, and especially those who have objected, [letting] We know their objections have nothing to do with race or gender,” Murphy said.

Murphy added that the community’s disagreements sometimes affect people. He added there were suspicions that the racist and sexist beliefs being sent to the board via cards, emails and voicemails came outside the purview of OSD.

“I hope that all of us, regardless of our directories, will continue to work together and quieten these voices until they’re gone,” Murphy urged attendees.

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