Dayton Public Schools Media Policy
Strategic communication Program
The strategic information program of Dayton Public Schools will be coordinate in nature. Specifically, the Public Information Office 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 system of Dayton's size, specific responsibilities will be assigned, as the need arises, to those units best equipped to handle them.
The principal or his/her designee is the media contact for the individual school. All media inquiries to the Public Information 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 Public Information Office.
Principals should be adequately prepared to discuss their schools' 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 public information office for further referral. The guidelines below apply also to department and program heads.
Requests from the Building Level
When a publicity request is made from the building level to the Public Information Office as a result of a school achievement or event, the Public Information Office will issue the proper notification to the appropriate news media. This is done with the understanding that the school initiating the request is prepared to receive news media in the building and give them the information and access to cover the story.
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 Public Information Office will notify the principal. The media must supply the following information:
- the date and general time of day a reporter wants to come into the school
- to whom the reporter wants to talk
- for what reason
The Public Information 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 Public Information Office, that a reporter will be contacting the building, the principal must refer the inquiry back to the Public Information Office immediately. The principal may then proceed to talk with the reporter if he or she wishes. In order for the Public Information Office staff to assist you in the aftermath of the story, it is important that the principal inform the Public Information Office of the results of the interview.
This second type of inquiry can often be the most difficult to set up for two reasons: (1) the nature of the reporter's story might concern an aspect of school the principal may not want to discuss, and (2) the Public Information Office is often asked to help a reporter meet a deadline that conflicts with the school schedule.
When these types of inquiries are made, it is well to remember that the school system 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 published or broadcast item.
It is also important to remember that, if we want the media to come into the schools when we want them there, it is our responsibility to cooperate with them when they want to be there. In setting up inquiries of this kind, however, four guidelines will be followed:
Classes should not be interrupted for general interview purposes unless the principal or a teacher feels the interview would promote the classroom discussion.
Media representatives may sit in on or videotape footage in classrooms if it is agreeable to the building principal and the teacher(s) involved.
Media representatives may have access to students and teachers for interview purposes during lunch periods and after school hours on school property with permission from the building principal.
Media representatives should be expected to observe all the rules and regulations set up for public visitors.
Media Access to a School Building During or After a Crisis
In a crisis or emergency situation, it is imperative to disseminate accurate, objective information. All such information should come directly from the principal in order to ensure that false rumors do not get started. The principal's responsibilities are threefold:
Contact Safety and Security when the crisis occurs so the rumor control and/or emergency dispatch process can begin.
Instruct staff to refer crisis-related telephone calls to Safety and Security. Media inquiries must be referred to the Public Information Office. Safety and Security will contact the Public Information Office. If time permits, after calling Safety and Security, call the Public Information Office.
If media representatives arrive at the school without prior notification from the Public Information Office, the principal may give them the facts, then notify the Public Information Office immediately. Note the reporter's name and the medium so the public information office will follow-up if necessary.
Be prepared with the facts so you can answer questions on the scene:
- WHO (no names please . . . "student," "teacher," etc.)
- WHAT (a brief description of what happened)
- HOW (what caused the disruption/situation, if you know)
- WHAT IS BEING DONE (explain what steps have been taken to alleviate the situation)
If an individual feels that, as a result of a media contact, there has been a misquote or misrepresentation, that individual should contact the Public Information Office immediately.