When there’s good news to be shared, we collaborate. When a reporter has a question about a story, needs information verified or requests a comment for a story, we respond. However, most recently, we did not receive the same opportunity as we have in the past. We want to be treated in a fair manner and request that future coverage on our district be reflected as such.
It is standard practice for journalists to contact the subjects of stories prior to publishing. According to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, journalists should diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing. That did not take place when the story, “Shakopee school district fights release of NeuVest report,” was posted online. There was also a Facebook post that stated Shakopee Public Schools “postpones” the release of the NeuVest report. This is inaccurate.
We first took our concerns directly to Shakopee Valley News Editor Deena Winter via email. From our perspective, her response did not acknowledge, nor address, our primary concerns. In addition, the email we sent to Winter, outlining our concerns with the hope she would work with us to reach a resolution, was then used as an addition to her editorial. Our first attempt to reach a resolution did not work. Hence, the reason for submitting this letter to the editor.
The SVN made the request for the release of the NeuVest report to the Shakopee Police Department. After a series of exchanges regarding data privacy statutes and legal opinions on the subject, the police department joined the school district in making a joint request to the Minnesota Department of Administration for a final opinion on this matter. We were surprised to see the productive interchange — between an attorney working for the City of Shakopee and an attorney working for Shakopee Public Schools, on how to best approach the release of information that could potentially be considered private personnel data — characterized as “fighting.” We simply shared concerns and asked questions about a complex situation that needs to be handled correctly to avoid the possibility of severe legal penalties and lawsuits.
Joint requests of this nature do not typically come from parties who are fighting with one another and that is why we strongly disagree with the characterization of the interaction as “fighting.” We worked together to navigate a situation, filled with conflicting statutes and legal opinions. Our goal is to do this correctly, and legally, in partnership with the Shakopee Police Department.
It is our sincere desire to be treated fairly and objectively by the Shakopee Valley News. It is our hope that we can continue to work together to share the great stories that are happening in our schools as well as the many accomplishments of our teachers and students.