School district clamps down on media access to students
NEW YORK–The Auburn Enlarged School District in early February passed a policy barring all reporters from school grounds unless they receive prior permission from the District Superintendent’s office.
Under the new policy, local principals are also forbidden to allow news media to take photographs and cannot discuss school matters with the media without the Superintendent’s approval.
Media access to students became an issue last fall during a visit to the Auburn High School by Democratic congressional candidate Marty Mack. Mack sent out a press release inviting the media to the event but principal Ray Savorese told reporters that while they could cover Mack’s address, they could not photograph or interview individual students.
Don Rogers, Managing Editor of The (Auburn) Citizen, said that he objects to the new policy but that it appears acceptable in practical terms. He expects the Superintendent’s Office to cooperate with the media but is worried about the implications of a policy that essentially gives the Superintendent the power to control what can be reported.
According to the new policy, the district’s objectives are to ensure “dissemination of accurate, timely information,” to “eliminate rumors and misinformation” and to form an “effective working relationship with the news media.”
Reporters may report on any activity or program with approval from the superintendent’s office. They must report to the principal when visiting a school and must be accompanied by the principal or a designee throughout the visit. The principal may also request the presence of a representative from the superintendent’s office.
Superintendent Bill Miller did not respond to numerous requests for comment. (Public Information Policy)