Q&A: Limited access in schools


From the Connersville News-Examiner:

Q: The school superintendent says our education reporter can’t come to area schools without permission.

The superintendent also says our photographer can’t take photos in the classroom without obtaining parental permission first, but only when we’ve suggested a story; it’s not needed if the school invites us into a classroom.

The school system already has an opt-out photo policy to give concerned parents an opportunity to avoid having their children contacted or photographed by the media. Any advice? 

A: With the opt-out policy in place, there’s no reason to require additional parental permission for you to take photos or talk to a student in a classroom.

The superintendent obviously is adding barriers to your ability to do stories that you want.

There is a basis for principals to control access to their buildings – for safety and to avoid disruption of classrooms – but it appears this is more of a control issue for the superintendent who doesn’t want the reporter asking questions.

The superintendent answers to the school board, so I suggest the school board president needs to be informed of the situation to hopefully bring the situation under control.

If the school board decides to support the superintendent in this campaign to control your news coverage, then I suggest a column by the editor or an editorial that lets the community know that the school board and superintendent are trying to control what information is made available to the public.

Let public pressure help persuade officials to do what’s right.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.