When D.C. Superior Court Judge Kaye K. Christian read the word “complete” in court papers filed by District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) officials throughout August, she assumed it meant that school roofs would be finished and approved by D.C. fire inspectors—ready for her to clear the schools for operations. Instead, DCPS facilities chief Gen. Charles Williams said the word “complete” didn’t exactly mean he was ready to present the schools to the court. That led the judge to fine DCPS $1,000 per day for each school that wasn’t complete—by her definition—on Sept. 11.

To avoid this type of semantic confusion, we’ve decided to translate other DCPS pronouncements in hopes of getting to the bottom of the roofing crisis: