Working Together: Schools & the Media Skip to main content

Working Together: Schools & the Media

The Bulloch County Board of Education (BOE) seeks to proactively enhance communication between the school system and all of its audiences and stakeholders. It is their goal to deliver information and respond to requests in a timely, transparent, accurate and informative way. The News & Data section of the BOE website features their latest news and data, news archives, annual reports and information about key issues that the school system is facing locally and nationally. 

Accountability

Accountability Standards

The Bulloch County School District, its 15 schools, and three alternative learning centers, seek to provide all parents, guardians and our community with important information about the performance and progress of the school district and each school. It is also our goal to remain compliant with all federal education accountability requirements within the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and state requirements to report student achievement, school climate and financial efficiency data. In collaboration with the Georgia Department of Education and the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, this information is meant to better engage and parents and the community in the education of our community's children. 

Newsroom

Newsroom

The district’s public relations and marketing specialist is the public information contact and spokesperson for media inquiries, crisis communications and requests for faculty and student interviews.  The public relations and marketing specialist also serves as a strategic communications planning resource to the schools, central office and Board of Education.

The district’s Public Relations and Marketing Department seeks to proactively enhance communication between the system and all of its audiences and stakeholders. This is done in a myriad of ways: disseminating news information; image building; special events; enhancing internal and external communications; media relations; marketing; and advertising. It is our goal it deliver information and respond to requests in a timely, accurate and informative way.

It is our goal to accessible, transparent, accurate, appropriate and timely with the communications we provide to the media, families and other audiences and stakeholders.  The communication guidelines and laws listed below are designed to respond to any news or freedom of information requests, yet to keep disruptions to educational operations at a minimum. We also want to ensure safety, protection of rights and respect for children and employees within the system.

Key BOE Policies & Procedures

Board Policies

  • Board policy requires that requests for interviews with students, teachers and school system employees be approved by the district’s Public Relations & Marketing Specialist.

  • If a pupil is approved for an interview, the student’s parent must either be present at the time of the interview or provide written consent.

  • All visitors, including those with the media, must report to the front office immediately upon arrival and again as he/she exits the building.

Federal Law: FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

The district has a legal and ethical responsibility to protect the privacy of its students and their education records. FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records and limits the amount of information that a school may release without the consent of a student’s parent or legal guardian. Schools may not disclose grades, discipline records, documentation of attendance, special education records, medical and health records, and other personally identifiable information. Parents are guaranteed access to their child's educational records until the student turns 18. 

Federal Law: ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act)

Passed in 2015, ESSA is a national law and commitment to providing students with equal opportunities. ESSA requires that students be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in college and careers, ensures that communities are provided with vital information, protects high-need and disadvantaged students, helps to grow and support local innovations, sustains and expands the administration’s historic investments and sets an expectation that accountability will be held and action will be taken to motivate change in America’s lowest-performing schools. 

Open Meetings Act

Open Meetings Act Compliance

The BOE is the governing body of the Bulloch County School System, known as Bulloch County Schools (the district). The district is the local education agency for K-12 public education in Bulloch County. The primary role of the elected Board of Education is the legislation of the school system policies, which are executed under the direction of the school superintendent. Georgia's Open Meetings Acts requires all BOE meetings to be recorded and open to the public. The BOE must notify the public about the time and place of upcoming meetings and provide the public with access to meeting minutes.

Georgia Law Regarding Employees

Just as the BOE has a responsibility to protect their student’s rights, they must also protect the rights of their employees, especially those who the media are addressing. Employee home telephone numbers and addresses may not be disclosed. Following the Open Records Act, the school system disseminates information that may be legally disclosed. However, the law does state that other documents such as performance evaluations and documents used for employee investigation must be kept confidential during an open school system investigation or until 10 days after the board has reached a decision and taken action, if necessary.

Georgia Law Regarding School Visitors

Providing a safe, secure environment conducive to learning where students are best suited to succeed is one of the main priorities of the district and school principals every day, including when working with the news media. In the case of an emergency, every school in the district is required to have a safety plan, which is regularly reviewed and updated. However, the extent to which the news media will be granted access to the district is left to the discrimination of the individual school’s principal.

When an individual steps foot on to school grounds, he/she must check in and document his/her presence with the main office right away. The school principal or designated personnel  or the district’s public relations and marketing specialist will assist the media representative while he/she is inside the building. At any time, schools within the district may decide against allowing media representatives access to the school’s property, if their presence is disruptive to the school’s learning environment. The Georgia Legislature strictly enforces the law that prohibits the disruption of a public school. Media always has a right to document the exterior premises of a school property.

If any individual does not have a legitimate reason to be present on a district school campus, he/she will be asked to leave immediately. The final decision on this issue will be made by the school’s principal, as he/she exercises control over the buildings and grounds upon which a school is located. Loitering upon the premises of any school within the district will not be tolerated. If an individual fails to leave the school grounds upon request by school personnel, he/she will be charged with a misdemeanor.

Crisis or Emergency Situations

Creating and maintaining safe schools for students, faculty, staff, and visitors is one of the district’s main priorities every day. Parental support and community involvement are vital to helping the district maintain safe, orderly schools. The district regularly works in partnership with the Bulloch County Emergency Management Agency and all law enforcement agencies within the county, state and nation to develop and implement school and district emergency plans that foster safe school environments.

During and following an emergency situation, school and district officials must act quickly and follow established emergency protocols to safeguard students and staff, secure schools, and communicate accurate information in a timely manner. Thus, media access to schools and other facilities may be limited to ensure student and staff safety or to maintain order. School administrators may chose to designate an area on the school’s premises for the media to conduct news briefings on the crisis or emergency. In these scenarios, normal access procedures for the media and school visitors may be suspended to promote student and staff safety and an orderly emergency response.

Media Requests for Public Records

Open Records Requests

The BOE fully complies with the Open Records Act, which encourages the community’s access to public records to foster confidence in government and allow the public to evaluate the allocation of public funds and the productive and proper functioning of its institutions. The BOE will make available for inspection and/or copying its operational documents pursuant to provision of the Georgia Open Records Act, O.C.G.A. §50-18-70 et seq. The BOE may charge reasonable fees for personnel costs associated with retrieving the records, fax transmission costs, copying costs (.10 cents per page), postage costs, and/or costs for providing records on computer disks. The BOE’s records custodian will provide an estimate of these costs and will give those who request this service an opportunity to agree to pay these costs before the records are retrieved and made available.

Open records requests should be submitted in writing to the BOE Secretary and Custodian of Records, Mary Henley, the media’s official point of contact for requesting the release of public records, utilizing the Open Records Request form by email at recordscustodian@bullochschools.org, mail or hand delivery. Henley will share requests with the appropriate department, help arrange inspection of records and asses staff time and copying costs, when necessary, in document retrieval and reproduction. During Henley’s absence, forward your request to the Superintendent of Schools. As required by the law, a response will be given within three business days.

Interviews, Photography and Videography

The district’s public relations and marketing specialist is the public information contact and spokesperson for media inquiries, crisis communications and requests for faculty and student interviews. Interviews, photography or videotaping must be approved by the district’s public relations and marketing specialist. Requests for interviews are generally approved if the individual for whom the interview is being sought agrees to participate. Students without a signed Acknowledgement Form (by student and parent) from the Bulloch County Schools Handbook may not be photographed or interviewed without written consent from their parent or legal guardian. General photographs of children in which students are not identifiable, such as backs of heads or shots of legs and feet, do not require parental/guardian consent. The exception is if the student is participating in a public event that the school opens to the community where there is no expectation of privacy (i.e. high school athletic competition, school play, band concert, choral concert, events to which the public and media have been invited, etc.)

Media Contact

The media contact for the district is the public relations and marketing specialist, Hayley Greene. Greene may be contacted by email or by telephone at 912-212-8512 or 912-536-2827.

Suggestions to improve the flow of information are always welcome.