A Statement Regarding Editorial Oversight

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The editor-in-chief of the Scarlet & Gray Free Press has acknowledged a breach of journalistic ethics and has retracted an opinion piece published by the newspaper on Jan 29. In the story, Allister Dias did not attempt to make contact with Spring Valley High School Principal Tara Powell and failed to disclose that he once was a student at Spring Valley participating in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Program at the school. ROTC program, but further reports show an indication that he willingly resigned: “We intend to expand the NJROTC program and we had no intentions of shuttering it.”

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics encourages journalists to, “diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.” The code also says journalists should “avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived, and disclose unavoidable conflicts.” In his apology to Principal Powell, Dias acknowledged that he should have “reached out for a comment” before further continuing that Powell deserves “an equal voice on the matter and to address the allegations.”

Dias was referring to criticisms of Powell in her role of support for Spring Valley High School’s ROTC program.“I want it clearly noted that Spring Valley High School is very personal to me as I have served as a teacher, dean, assistant principal and now the principal,” Powell said in a response. “There is no better community of students and families to serve. All decisions made by me are kid-centered to truly make students college-and career-ready by the time they leave us. I want all my students to have opportunity and access when they leave high school. Spring Valley High School is my heart and is flourishing in all aspects.” Powell also said that as principal, “I see daily the impact educators on the Spring Valley High School campus have on students’ lives. I applaud them and cheer them on as they are the lever for change. In collaboration with the master chief and the NJROTC instructors at Spring Valley High School, we intend to expand the NJROTC program.” In the article it says the former chief of the J-ROTC program Exequiel Asuncion, was terminated after speaking out, which is false as Chief Exequiel Asuncion resigned on his own accord.  Powell said, “I support all programs on campus and attend various events on campus. ROTC has been featured numerous times in my monthly community newsletter I write, the school newspaper, on the website and shout outs to the entire school.”

Powell further noted that ROTC at Spring Valley High School does hold fundraising under certain guidelines, and this year the program has partnered with InstaRaise for fundraising opportunities.

Link to Retraction Letter

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