Sample Policy: Public Information and News Media Relations

The _____ School District recognizes the responsibility of the news media to provide accurate and timely information to the community concerning the people, programs, and vision of the District and its schools.

While it is the District’s intent to cooperate with new media to insure complete and accurate coverage of the District, it is also our intent to safeguard students from unwarranted disruptions to their instructional program. Therefore, during the scope of the regular school day, the following guidelines will apply to members of the news media when covering stories related to the District.

  • Media representatives will be expected to obtain permission from the [district spokesperson/district designee] prior to interacting with staff or students on school property during school hours. If the [district spokesperson/district designee] is unavailable, the request will be referred to the Superintendent of Schools or designee.
  • If the media receives District permission to contact an individual school, principals may validly deny, at their discretion, media interviews on the grounds it would disrupt instruction or that parents would object to their children’s participation in a media report on a topic of sensitive nature. Pupils will not be used for public opinion surveys or be required to participate in stories without educational relevance. The principal has the right to minimize unnecessary interruptions of instructional time.
  • Reporters will be expected to limit the scope of their interviews to the specific individual and/or specific topic for whihc permission has been given. The principal must be informed if the subject matter deviates from the identified purpose of the interview.
  • Parents/guardians of students enrolled in special educational programs must provide written consent before their child is photographed, interviewed, and/or identified in articles, photos, or digital productions.
  • Student and staff interviews conducted during class time will be granted only if they pertain to the class in session or if such coverage has been approved in advance by the principal.
  • An administrator/designee must be informed of any student interview that takes place on school property during school hours. An administrator/designee must be present during all student interviews.
  • Statements concerning the overall operation of the District’s schools or the actions, policies, and positions of the District, or those statements concerning more than one District school shall be made by the President of the Board of Education, the Superintendent of Schools, or designee.

Cross Reference: Student Records Policy

Legal Reference: Wisconsin Statutes 118.125

Source: Wausau School District, Board Policy 1240

About the author

The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) is a professional association representing schools, school districts, educational associations, consulting agencies and organizations. WSPRA is a state affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). 4797 HAYES ROAD | SUITE 103 | MADISON, WI 53704 | PHONE: 608-241-0300 | WSPRA@AWSA.ORG