Administrative Regulation 503.06J
Guidelines for Media Interviews, Photos, &amp; Video of Students
As public entities, the district’s schools are open to the news media to visit and report on in a mannerly fashion. Every reasonable effort should be made to welcome the news media into the schools, whether the school or district has initiated an invitation for the media to visit, or the media has initiated a request to visit.
It is beneficial to the district for the news media to do stories on its schools, their accomplishments, and innovative programs. It also is beneficial to the district for the news media to do stories on issues that involve its schools, as long as those stories present facts, acknowledge opinions, and present both facts and opinions in a balanced way.
To enjoy positive media coverage and to ensure that negative media coverage is kept to a minimum, the news media need to feel welcome into the district’s schools.
Media visits, of course, are to be conducted in a way that does not disrupt nor detract from the educational programs being carried out there. Additionally, these visits should be conducted in a way that takes into consideration the best interest of students, particularly in instances in which students may be identified with special education or at-risk programs.
Governing district policies
Two school district policies provide the broad parameters for ways in which student interviews are to be conducted and the extent to which information on and photos of students may be released. In brief they are:
Interviews with Students (Policy 506.4) — “A student may not be interviewed in school unless the principal or another delegated staff member is present. No interview shall be granted unless the principal deems it essential to the welfare of the pupil or the pupil is directed to do so by court order . . . This policy applies to all interviews of students by non-school personnel . . . ”
Instruction (Policy 605.4) — “The Davenport Community School District has designated the following items as ‘Directory Information.’ The District may disclose any of these items without prior written consent, unless the principal is notified in writing by the parent/guardian or eligible student by October 1 of each school year or within 30 days after the student’s enrollment. Directory Information: student name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, awards received, most recent previous school attended, and photograph.”
Steps for working with the news media
The administrator of the individual building or program will determine if news media interviews and photographs/video may be granted during the regular school day. Here are some guidelines to follow when making these decisions:
Administrator or designee approval — It is helpful if it is communicated and understood throughout a program or building that the administrator is the ultimate individual responsible for approving media interviews on school district property during the school day. Staff members who want to invite the media to cover their classes or programs, therefore, should have approval to do so from their administrator. This may be done on a case-by-case basis or with a special long-term understanding with the administrator, whichever works best for each individual school and program.
In the administrator’s absence, a designee should be appointed to approve media visits. This could be the assistant administrator, lead teacher, or other.
Photographs/video of buildings– Media representatives should be encouraged to call in advance to arrange a time to take photographs/video on district property or inside district buildings. In those cases that the media do not call ahead, the building administrator should try to accommodate the media as appropriate within these media guidelines. If the administrator or a designee does not have the time or is otherwise unable to accommodate the media on-the-spot, he/she should ask to make arrangements at a later time. Or, if appropriate, the administrator could refer the media to another building location for the photographs or video.
Once arrangements are made with the media, the administrator or his/her staff designee should accompany the media while photographs or video are taken. This will help to ensure that students who should not be photographed are not accidentally photographed; These would include cases in which parents have requested their children not be photographed by media.
Photographs/video of groups of students– All of the guidelines for “photographs/video of buildings” by media (listed above) apply to media photographs/video of groups of students, with some precautions as follows.
In most cases, it is appropriate for the media to take the following kinds of student group photographs or video: walking in the school hallway, eating in the cafeteria, participating in a classroom lesson or listening to an assembly speaker. With the help of teachers, administrators should identify any students who should not be included in such group photographs — mainly those students whose parents would not want them photographed — and point them out to the media. The media typically are cooperative in not taking photographs of students when asked by school officials.
Parent permission, written or verbal, usually is not necessary for photographs of groups of students, unless the administrator determines otherwise.
Photographs/video or interviews of individual students– In many cases, district administrators agree it is best to have at least verbal approval from parents to allow media photographs, video or interviews of individual students while under the supervision of the school during the regular school day. There is, however, no district policy nor administrative regulation that requires this. It is up to the discretion of each individual administrator, who may determine such approval is necessary in some situations and not necessary in others.
In some cases, including those dealing with special education and at-risk students or coverage of controversial topics, the administrator may consider written parent permission before granting media photographs/video or interviews of individual students. Again, there is no district policy nor administrative regulation that requires such permission. However, if the administrator has concerns that documentation or written approval for students to be photographed/videotaped or interviewed would be necessary in the future, he/she should take steps to obtain the written approval.
A sample written permission form accompanies these guidelines.
Steps for informing parents of media guidelines
To help avoid a situation of a student being interviewed, photographed or videotaped by the news media and subsequently receiving a complaint from a parent for allowing this to happen, principals and coordinators of student programs are advised to publicize the school district’s open-door philosophy.
This could be done simply with a short article in the parent guidebook, a parent newsletter at the beginning of the school year, or both. A sample statement follows:
As a public entity, the Davenport Community School District welcomes the news media to visit schools.
News reporters and photographers frequently are invited to cover student and staff achievement as well as innovative programs in our schools. This is done so the community will better understand and support our important mission of education.
The school administrator or a designee supervises all media visits to the school, ensuring they are conducted in a way that does not disrupt nor detract from classroom learning and student welfare. The best interests of students always are a top priority during such visits.
Administrators will assist media representatives in choosing students to interview or photograph/videotape, being sensitive to obtain at least verbal parent permission if there is any question in mind that the parent may or may not approve of their student participating.
To assist in this process, parents who do not want their students to be interviewed or photographed/videotaped at anytime or for any reason at school are encouraged to contact the school office at (list phone number here) so this fact can be recorded.
- Adopted 8/94
- Revised 7/99, Reviewed 5/96, Revised 7/03, Revised 7/10
- Cross Reference: Board Policy 501.08 Students—Legal Status; 503.06 Cumulative Folder
- Legal Reference: 20 U.S. C. § 1232g, 1415 (1988); 34 C.F.R. Pt. 99, 300.560–.574 (1993); Iowa Code §§ 22; 622.10 (1995); Iowa Code § 256B; 1980 Op. Att’y Gen. 720, 825; IAC 281.12.3(4)
- By action of the Board: 11/8/76; Revised 6/13/83; 11/12/90; 7/12/93; 2/7/94; Revised 3/12/01
- Edited 3/01
- Adopted 8/94
- Reviewed 5/96
- Revised 7/99, Revised 02/07