Communications and Public Information | Policy 3145

The Board of Education recognizes the importance of timely and useful communication with parents and the public. Along with traditional, media and print communications tools, the use of all technology options continues to be enhanced, including those available through the Student Information System, e-mail and text messages as well as through the internet (i.e. Web sites, and social networks). The ability of the District or an individual school to take full advantage of these tools plays a vital role in relating important information to our community and parents. As such, it is important to avoid compromising the privacy of certain student information while yet maximizing the effectiveness of these communication tools. The District shall provide parents and eligible students with annual notification of their rights under FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) including the opportunity for parents (students 18 years or older) to “opt-out” of the release of photographs or other identifying information.

Acceptable Use of Communication Tools

The following is the acceptable use guidelines for District resources:

A. District E-mail, School Messenger

1. District e-mail and SIS Messenger, which includes email and voicemail notifications to parents for official District business use directly related to instruction and school programs only as applicable for building, grade-level and classroom teacher:

  • Emergency notifications
  • Information about educational and other school programs
  • Health and Safety issues

2. District calendar:

  • District/building/grade levels
  • District-sanctioned groups (i.e.,PTSA, booster clubs,
    extracurricular clubs, student government)

B. Flyers distributed in school

The Board of Education recognizes that while the schools are often looked to for information about related events, distribution of information and announcements to each student takes time from the instructional day. At the same time, because of a long tradition of cooperating with community agencies and organizations and in recognition of their valuable work for our children, the District strives to assist in making students and parents aware of additional opportunities for growth and development.

District or school related materials (including required state/federal announcements and forms, information from District-sanctioned groups such as Boosters, PTSA, clubs, student government: Notifications shall be permitted to be distributed directly to students through such means as take-home folders, or backpacks, or displayed on tables, racks, bulletin boards or other areas designated for such use.

1. Not-for-profit, District partnerships: (FMCC, HFM Boces, etc) Generally, informational materials from outside groups/organizations will not be distributed to each student. However, from time to time the District will partner with a community group on an educational initiative. Distribution directly to students shall be permitted with authorization from the Superintendent or his/her designee.
2. Not-for-profit, non-District partnerships: (YMCA, Youth Groups, etc)In order to help inform parents of opportunities for their children and meet the needs of non-profit community groups, material approved by the Superintendent or his/her designee will be provided by:
 Establishing a prominent place in school buildings to display materials on a bulletin board; the space will be labeled with a clear stipulation that: “The displayed notices are for your information only. The District does not recommend or endorse the activities/events or announcements described.”
 Opportunities to distribute materials at District and/or building sponsored community events may be provided as long as it does not distract from and it coincides with the purpose of the event. Students have the right to free speech and free expression, however, schools can impose reasonable limits on when, where, and how students may distribute materials. Therefore, any desire to distribute materials within school buildings or on school grounds must be discussed and authorized by the respective building principal. No materials of a commercial nature or materials that are discriminatory, lewd, obscene, sexually explicit, libelous or promote illegal activities shall be displayed.

The State Constitution prohibits the gift or loan of school District property to or in aid of any individual, private corporation or association, or private undertaking. The District may not, therefore, promote or advertise for any private entity, either for-profit or not-for-profit. District resources should not be used to promote non-school-related activities and organizations. This includes advertising in relation to fund raisers, sending District emails, or posting internet site links on District/school web-pages that promote or for which for-profit entities can solicit business.

In addition, the District may not provide any information to vendors that allow the vendor to “target” District staff or students for the purpose of advertising or promoting their business.

C. Media Relations

The Board of Education, recognizing the importance of the news media in communicating with parents and other District residents, will strive to maintain a good working relationship with the representatives of the various news media. The Board President and Superintendent shall respond to media questions when appropriate to ensure the comprehensive reporting of District activities and make every effort to share public information in a timely and accurate manner. The superintendent or designee is the only official spokesperson for the school District. Subsequently, the following protocols apply:

1. Agendas of Board Meetings shall be available to the public and provided to the news media by the Superintendent’s office at all Board Meetings.
2. All District-wide press releases shall be approved and released through the Superintendent’s office.
3. All building press releases shall be approved and released through the principal’s office. Any District-level or building releases dealing with any unusual or sensitive issues must be forwarded to the Superintendent’s office for prior approval and subsequent to release.
4. Press releases will be sent to the media for:
 District/building/grade level announcements/information
 District-sanctioned groups (i.e., PTSA, booster clubs, extracurricular clubs, student government) announcements/information
 Not-for-profit District partnerships (i.e. FMCC, HFM Boces, etc)
5. News Conferences and Interviews -News conferences to announce matters of importance or to share information about a significant event may be called by the Board of Education or the Superintendent. In an emergency, public information will be provided in accordance with building level and District-wide safety plans.
Unless authorized to do so by the Superintendent, staff members are not authorized to express views on behalf of the District. A staff member may grant an interview to the news media, but should limit remarks to his/her program or area of responsibility and should inform the principal or supervisor prior to the interview. Any inquiry by or contact with the representatives of the news media should also be reported to the public information officer or Superintendent.
6. Media Presence on School Property/Facilities – These regulations apply to all representatives of news media agencies and govern media access to students during instructional hours and/or school activities whether occurring on or off school grounds.

These regulations do not apply to general media coverage of events of public interest (such as an athletic event, lecture, school play, Board meetings, and the like).

a. Authorization

 Media representatives must request permission to interview, photograph, or videotape District students through the office of the superintendent. Final authorization and arrangements will be authorized by the school principal.
 No special permission shall be required from media representatives prior to the publishing of news articles, taking of photographs and/or videotapes of general school events which are of public interest as noted above.
 Prior to granting media access to individual students, the principal or his/her designee shall be apprised of all information including, but not limited to, the date, location, purpose, and length of access time requested by the media representative. Where permission is granted, media representatives will be permitted access to the school building and/or students provided the presence of such representatives will not unduly disrupt the educational operations or instructional activities of the school.
 If the student from whom information is sought by the media does not want to be interviewed, photographed and/or videotaped, or if the parent/guardian of the student opts out for media access to his/her child, such access will be denied by the building principal/designee.

b. Time and Location of Access

 Media access to public events shall be limited to the specific locations and immediately surrounding areas where such public event is taking place.
 The building principal/designee may place reasonable limitations on the length of or location of any media access to students. Media access of public events shall be restricted to the time period for such events, along with a reasonable time period prior to and after the activity.

D. Internet (Web site/social networking sites):

The Board of Education strongly supports and encourages the use of innovative technology to enhance communications. This includes internet-based communications tools (i.e. Web sites, social networking sites, etc.)

1. Notifications
a. District/building/grade level announcements/information via the District Web page, school Web pages, and/or social networking sites.
b. District-sanctioned groups (i.e., PTSA, booster clubs, extracurricular clubs, student government) announcements/information: the District Calendar, District Web page, school Web pages, social networking sites and District e-mail.
c. Not-for-profit District partnerships (i.e.FMCC, HFM, etc)
announcements/information: the District Web page, school Web pages, flyer distribution and/or social networking sites.
d. Not-for-profit, non-District partnerships (i.e. educational services, mental health services, YMCA, Youth organizations, etc) School bulletin board postings, flyer distributed to targeted groups..
2. General Criteria for Internet-based communications
a. The District/school/classroom internet-based communications must relate to curriculum or instructional matters, school authorized activities, or general information of interest to the public pertaining to the District or its schools.
b. Staff are prohibited from linking (non-curriculum based) personal internet-based communications into their District/school/classroom internet-based communications
c. All web pages must conform to the standards for appropriate use found in the District’s Acceptable Use Policy(ies) and the Code of Conduct regarding standards of acceptable use; examples of inappropriate behavior; and compliance with applicable laws, privacy, and safety concerns.
d. No individual or outside organization will be permitted to publish personal internet-based communications as part of the District/school/classroom internet-based communications.
e. Failure to follow District standards or procedures may result in disciplinary sanctions in accordance with law and/or the applicable collective bargaining agreement. The District shall provide information on relevant legal considerations and compliance with applicable laws and regulations including copyright, intellectual property, and privacy of student records as well as relevant District procedures to those staff members and students who are allowed to develop or place material on the District/school/classroom internet-based communications.

3. Content Standards
All subject matter, District-wide, shall relate to curriculum, instruction, school-authorized activities, school or District news or general information that relates to the District’s mission, goals and initiatives.
a. Staff or student work should be published only as it relates to school/classroom authorized projects or other school-related activities.
b. A student internet-based communications (if considered a school-sponsored student publication) shall be subject to prior teacher review, as would any other school-sponsored student publication. The teacher may edit as needed, should check for the accuracy of links and conformance with District standards and practices.
c. An authorized teacher who is publishing the final internet-based communications will edit and test the page(s) for accuracy of links and check for conformance with District standards and practices.
d. Commercial advertising or marketing on the official District/school/classroom Web Page(s) or the use of school-affiliated web pages for the pursuit of personal or financial gain shall be prohibited unless otherwise authorized in accordance with law, regulation or Board of Education policy (see #3272). School-affiliated Web Pages may mention outside organizations only in the context of school programs that have a direct relationship to those organizations (e.g., sponsorship of an activity, student community service project).
e. Internet-based communications may include faculty or staff names; however, other personal information about employees including, but not limited to, home telephone numbers, addresses, personal e-mail addresses, or other identifying information such as names of family members may be published only with the employee’s permission.
f. All internet-based communications should be carefully proofread to minimize spelling and grammatical errors.
g. Staff internet-based communications should not contain surveys dealing with District-level issues or other topics outside of the author’s area of responsibility.

E. Use of Copyrighted Materials and “Fair Use” Exceptions/Intellectual Property and Works Made for Hire

1. Copyrighted Materials
All employees and students are prohibited from copying materials not specifically allowed by the copyright law, “Fair Use” guidelines, licenses or contractual agreements, or the permission of the copyright proprietor. Web page publications must include a statement of copyright when appropriate and indicate that permission has been secured when including copyrighted materials or notice that such publication is in accordance with the “Fair Use” provisions of the Copyright Law. Additional cautions:
 Unless otherwise noted, always assume that work on the web is copyrighted. It is NOT necessary that the copyright symbol — © — be displayed for the work to be protected by copyright laws.
 Proper attribution must always be given.
 Obtaining permission(s) from the copyright holder(s) (whether text, graphics or music) should occur during the developmental process or project, rather than waiting to seek permission upon completion of the project.
 Unauthorized electronic transmission of copyrighted materials is illegal.
2. Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials
Pursuant to Section 107 of the Copyright Law (“Fair Use” provisions), the use of copyrighted material for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research may be permitted under certain circumstances: “However, any appropriation of someone else’s work on the Internet is a potential copyright infringement.” If there is a possibility that school-affiliated web page(s), which incorporate copyrighted works under the “Fair Use” provisions, could later result in broader dissemination, it will be necessary to seek the permission of the copyright holder. Given the complex interplay between copyright law and the “Fair Use” provisions in educational multimedia, projects should be considered in development of Web Page publishing standards and reviewed by school counsel prior to District implementation for compliance with applicable law and regulations.
3. Intellectual Property/ Works Made for Hire
All works completed by employees as part of their employment shall be considered
“works made for hire” as described in the United States Code Annotated, Title 17. Work covered under this policy is the property of the School District, not the creator of such work. The District shall own any and all rights to such works, or derivatives thereof, unless there is a written agreement to the contrary.

This determination includes, but is not limited to, the following activities:

 Work prepared by an employee within the scope of his/her employment, whether tangible or intangible;
 Work specifically ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as enumerated in law.
 Any work created within the scope of such a relationship will be considered a work made for hire when a regular employment relationship exists.

4. Student Work

Students are the copyright holders of their own original work. Teachers shall make themselves aware of students whose parents have “opted out” for publication of their children’s work.
The District may exercise editorial control over the style and content of student expression in school-sponsored publications, theatrical productions, and other expressive activities that students, parents and members of the public might reasonably perceive to bear the imprimatur of the school.
However, the school’s actions in such a case must be reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns and may not amount to viewpoint discrimination.

F. Consequences for Non-Compliance

Faculty or staff communicating non-approved or inappropriate material are subject to the imposition of discipline, including possible suspension or revocation of access to the District’s computer network in accordance with applicable rules, regulations and laws. In the case that a violation may constitute a criminal offense, it will be reported to the appropriate authorities. Students communicating non-approved or inappropriate material are subject to the imposition of discipline, including possible suspension or revocation of access to the District’s computer network, in accordance with applicable due process procedures and the District Code of Conduct. In the case that a violation may constitute a criminal offense, it will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

G. Oversight

The Superintendent of Schools or his/her designee shall have the authority to approve or deny use of the District’s communications tools based upon compliance with the terms and conditions set forth in this policy as well as applicable District practices and procedures.

Refer to Policies 3110, 3111, and 3114 Communications; 6180 Staff-Students Relations (Fraternization)

Adopted: 10/22/2015

Revised: 03/27/2017