I tagged this story because I wanted to get back to it at some point and give my comments. It’s been waiting for a little bit.
The KPRC Local 2 Troubleshooters e-mailed surveys to more than 18,000 employees at the Houston Independent School District, the area’s largest district. The survey asked teachers, principals and staff about violence on campus in an effort to get an inside look at what is really going on at school.
But hours after the survey was sent, HISD tried to stop the story, criticizing the Troubleshooters for asking the questions directly to the employees and ordering employees not to respond.
The story covers the results from the respondents they did receive. They do a good job of making it sound like HISD didn’t want employees to respond because they aren’t interested in the results. At no time is the HISD policy about dealing with the media discussed at all.
There’s very little room for gray area in what HISD posted about their policies:
The Press Office shall coordinate news coverage of the school district. The department is responsible for overseeing official communications between the school system and the news media by initiating story ideas as well as facilitating requests for news coverage from media representatives and district personnel.
The Press Office provides assistance and training to school administrators regarding effective relations with the news media.
The Superintendent of Schools (or a designee) serves as the primary spokesperson for the district on all matters of districtwide interest. The President of the Board of Education serves as the primary spokesperson for the Board of Education. The district superintendent is the primary spokesperson regarding issues related to the schools in his or her individual district. The principal is the primary spokesperson regarding issues related to his or her individual school.
All news conferences and public events of a districtwide nature in which news coverage is requested must be coordinated by or through the Press Office. District personnel should submit story ideas to the Press Office as early as possible prior to the desired coverage date.
Sounds to me like the press tried to circumvent HISD procedures and then HISD had to remind employees what they were supposed to do (or not do). How shocking! The school district tried to enforce policies that have been in place for quite a while. Policies that are well-known and easily-obtained.
Of course, all of this is speculation based on 10-12 years of doing what I do.