The Communications Office of the Liberty Public School District retains responsibility for, and direct authority over, the public information program of the entire district as authorized and instructed by the superintendent of schools. However, recognizing the complexities involved in disseminating information in a timely manner, specific responsibilities will be assigned, as the need arises, to those individuals best equipped to handle them. Cooperation with members of the media is expected of all staff members.
The principal or his/her designee is the media contact for the individual school. All media inquires to the Communications Office pertaining to a specific school will be coordinated through the appropriate principal. Conversely, the principal is expected to coordinate requests for media coverage through the Communications Office.
Principals should be adequately prepared to discuss their school’s policies and programs when called upon to do so. Principals are not, however, expected to address matters pertaining to board or central administration policies or procedures. If such inquiries are made during an interview, a principal should not hesitate to send the reporter back to the Communications Office for further referral.
REQUESTS FROM REPORTERS
When a request is initiated by a media representative to enter the school as a result of an independent school-related story on which the reporter is working, the media representative will first contact the Communications Office and the Communications Office will notify the principal. The Communications Office, working with the media representative and the principal, will attempt to work out a schedule agreeable to all concerned for a school visit and interview.
If a principal has not received prior notification from the Communications Office that a reporter will be contacting them, the principal should refer the inquiry back to the Communications Office immediately.
It is important to remember that the school district is a public institution, and it is inherent in the responsibilities of school administrators to cooperate with those who want to know what is going on in the schools. A school representative’s reaction to a reporter is as important to the outcome of the story as is the material gathered for the news story.
Five guidelines will be followed when working with the media:
1. The press does have a legal right to visit our schools, but there are restrictions. They do not have a legal right to interrupt class, and no staff member, student, or parent is ever required to talk to the media. Media and the general public do not require permission, however, to be on the public sidewalks at schools.
2. All visitors, including media, are required to check in at the front office. This is necessary to ensure student safety. When the media check in, they will be escorted at all times while on school property.
3. As a rule, media may take overall/general shots of students without permission slips, so long as the students are not identified or singled out. If media would like to speak with a student on camera, a media permission slip must be filled out and signed by the student's parent or guardian prior to the interview. Media inquiries about specific students, including inquiries in police-related matters or activities that have taken place off school grounds and not during the regular school day, should be referred to the Communications Office.