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Habanero peppers are blamed for haz-mat situation at Lakewood School

Six habanero peppers are being blamed for Monday afternoon’s haz-mat situation at a Lakewood school.

At about 1 p.m. Monday a skin reaction sent seven students from Jefferson County Open School to hospitals, and about two dozen others were decontaminated on site before the school was evacuated.

Jefferson County Public Schools released a statement Tuesday saying that members of the environmental services team found pieces of about six habaneros peppers scattered in the wood chips of the playground where the children had the mysterious reaction.

Investigators don’t know how the peppers got onto the playground.

District officials are washing the playground and equipment to ensure there is no more oil from the peppers.

The wood chips where the habanero peppers were found will be replaced.

School will be back in session Wednesday.

Yesenia Robles

An important win for Jeffco charter schools: one mom’s impassioned perspective

The Jefferson County Public School Board of Education Meeting was the place to be on Thursday night. It was standing room only, literally, and by the time the meeting officially started at 6:30 p.m. people were being turned away due to fire code and space issues.

As a concerned parent, voter, and taxpayer in Jefferson County, this meeting piqued my interest. Up for discussion was the equalization of funds for public charter schools. I felt it was important for my voice to be heard, so I wrote a letter to the Board (below) and spoke at the meeting. It was amazing to see so many parents there!

The Board majority approved a $3.7 million line item for charter schools. In my opinion this is a huge step in the right direction.


Dear Jefferson County Public School Board of Education,I am the parent of a student who attends Woodrow Wilson Academy, a JeffCo public charter school in Westminster, CO. This is our third year at this public charter school.Our assigned neighborhood school is not the closest school to our house, due to the way the boundaries are drawn. When I researched the bus and logistics, I discovered it would be cheaper and quicker to drive my daughter to and from school myself, so I explored our options through choice enrollment. Since I’d be providing transportation anyway, we looked for a school that would be the best fit for us.I drew a circle around our house on the map and researched the different schools in that radius.

As you know, JeffCo is a fantastic district. In that radius, I found a variety of different public schools, both public charter and district run. I visited every school on my list, researched the curricula, and filled out choice enrollment paperwork for our top choices.

As luck would have it, we got a spot in our top choice. This public charter school has a curriculum that challenges and enthuses my daughter, a wonderful level of parent involvement, and it IS a public school.

Yes, we’re a charter school. Yes, we’re a public school. Yes, we’re proud to be JeffCo.

It saddens me when our differences are used to pit us against each other, when in fact we’re on the same side and have the same goals. All JeffCo parents have a choice on where to send their children, and we all have our children’s best interests at heart.

The reasons vary, but the results are the same: we care about our kids, regardless of which type of public school they attend.

As a JeffCo parent and voter, I’m concerned about the equalization of funding for public charter schools. The wording in 3A/3B did not exclude public charter schools, and denying the equalization of these funds does a disservice to ALL public school kids of Jefferson County.

If I dropped my child off at our neighborhood school, she’d be worth $1,400 of the mill levy. Because I drop her off in front of a public school that happens to be a public charter school, she’s worth $247 dollars.

My child’s worth should not be based on the name on the door that’s held open for her every morning.

Frankly, it’s not right, and it sends a message of inequality that disappoints me.

We’re on the same side. Our kids are the focus. We’re all JeffCo.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.


JoAnn E. Rasmussen
JeffCo Parent and Voter

$950 million Colorado school finance measure officially on ballot

It’s official: The proposed school finance restructuring known as Initiative 22 will appear on the November ballot, now under the title Amendment 66.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced Wednesday that the initiative, which would raise $950 million in additional taxes for education, had passed the threshold of valid signatures required to bring the measure before voters.

Proponents had been confident all along that they had more than enough signatures after delivering almost double the 86,105 required. A random sample analyzed by Gessler’s office came up just short of the verification rate necessary to put the initiative directly on the ballot, although it projected that supporters would have the requisite valid signatures.