Dear Mrs. Raabe,
Thank you for taking the time to write to me addressing any and all concerns about my article “A Danger to Society and the People In It.” The Argos functions as an open forum and as such, it is important that we have these open and honest discussions.
The intention of the article was never to disregard the rules of journalism just to get my view point across or to blatantly accuse anyone of wrongdoings. An opinion piece is meant to express the way someone sees an issue that is important to them. Opinion can be both factual and truthful by using interviews and pictures to help support any claims made. In my article, I used my interviews to support the idea that Jeffco Public Schools actions weren’t lining up with their policies; which was the whole point of my article. The overall purpose of an article isn’t always to effect change, but sometimes just to shed light on an issue that affects a community. I would like to provide some answers to points brought up in your letter:
- “School board officials claim that when they consider delay starts and school closures, the safety and the staff is the number one consideration.” Regarding this statement, your letter claimed that this statement was taken out of context. This statement was taken directly from Jeffco’s policy website. To further clarify my use of the word “lying,” I wanted to make a strong point that Jeffco’s actions were not lining up with their actions. According to one of my sources, at Arvada, there are teachers who live in Littleton, Westminster, and Evergreen and for them, it’s a long drive to the school and on snow days, it becomes a safety issue. It’s this problem within the Jeffco policy that I wanted to emphasize.
- “Jeffco believes this course of action is unjustifiable.” Regarding this statement, I didn’t intend to state this claim as fact. This sentence is my opinion, which goes back to the purpose of my article being that I’ve experienced Jeffco saying one thing, but then their actions contradict their claims. It was important to me to highlight this issue and in regards to this statement, I was using previous experiences to help formulate my opinion even further.
- “Luckily, no one was injured, no thanks to Jeffco.” Although this article represents the opinion of a single journalist, I was very careful to base my opinions on experience and observation, as well as interviews and research. Furthermore, this was a statement of pure opinion and according to the Student Press Law Center, statements of pure opinion cannot be libelous. “The test is whether the expression is capable of being proven true or false. Pure opinions, by their very nature, cannot be proven true or false. Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1(1990).”
- “On a day most people won’t show up to in the first place.” I included this hyperbole to highlight the severity of the fact that multiple students were affected by the snow and ice Monday morning, as well as emphasize my frustration with the system.
- “Jeffco is the only district in the Denver Metro area that doesn’t fully believe in late starts or school closure on snow days.” I understand that 2 years ago the case for this may have been different, but the day I referenced involved a student accident, which highlights the importance of Jeffco lacking to issue a late start because of the snow. I wanted to stress one of my frustrations with Jeffco Public Schools: they’re actions don’t match their policies. Two of my sources, who have lived in Jeffco for many years, don’t recall ever having a late start. Policy changes reflect society and what may have worked in the past, doesn’t always work in the present.
I understand that what I wrote could be taken out of context or misinterpreted. However, my purpose for writing this article was to share my opinion on an issue that I found fault with that many other students and teachers could relate to. Other statements that you have brought to my attention:
- “They do make us practice drills to keep us safe during school, it’s just after hours, I don’t think they really care,” said Peters. “If it wasn’t on school property, it wouldn’t have been their issue.” I didn’t mention this in the article, but the student quoted here was using a knee scooter to get around and that morning, her parents spent a lot of time attempting to clear the driveway so they could get her to school on time. During the interview, Peters added that if Jeffco had done a late start or school closure, then her parents wouldn’t have had to waste so much time trying to unbury her driveway, just to call her in because the snow was so bad. This was a student’s personal opinion.
- “In many public schools, honesty is being stressed among individuals so that society won’t be made up of untruthful adults. Yet Jeffco was being untruthful when they said that their Code of Conduct was designed to promote safety through high standards of behavior.” I understand that this statement doesn’t make much sense in defending my opinion and that this can be misinterpreted or misunderstood. However, I was just using this as another example of Jeffco’s actions not lining up with their policies, which still follows my overall purpose of writing this article. Truthfully, this was a risk I took in my argument that may or may not have paid off.
Thank you for taking the time for writing to me about any concerns you have. It’s through these honest and open discussions that the Argos is able to continue to move forward as a public forum of student and community expression.
The Arvada Argos