1. Opt-Out Procedures
- Students whose parent or guardian have signed and returned Form 4011F-1 Opt-Out of Release of Student Directory Information, for district or school-related publicity may not be recorded, filmed, photographed or interviewed by employees of Bellingham Public Schools while at school or at district or school-sponsored events before, during or after school. District or school-related publicity applies to staff that produce district/school-produced newsletters and publications (including event, activities and athletic programs), recognition, awards, public displays of student work with names or photo, honor roll and graduation lists, yearbooks, district/school websites and social media, district/school photos and video, classroom video recording by higher education/practicum students, etc. News media access to non-public locations and events, such as inside a classroom, will be conditioned upon agreement to honor parent/guardian preferences expressed on Form 4011F-1.
- District and school staff will check the student information system for this restriction before publicizing student directory information, including the examples listed above.
- Parents/guardians may not authorize certain parts of student directory information and not others while having an active Form 4011F-1 on file. Customized parent permission forms are not to be used for this purpose.
- Form 4011F-1 must be submitted annually and is provided to all district families in the Family Handbook and on the district’s website. School staff will maintain this information in the student information system and keep the original form in the student’s file.
- Parents/guardians should be aware that ensuring student privacy is not possible at school-or-district-sponsored public performances or athletic/activities events where cameras are permitted. Other students, parents, community members and news media may record/photograph/film at these events and publicly share this information. By choosing to have their children participate in such activities and programs, parents/guardians are agreeing to this condition. In addition, the district does not have control of outside news media/ publications.
- To lift district or school-related publicity restriction, parents/guardians may complete Form 4011F-2 Cancellation of Student Directory Information Opt-Out. School staff will maintain this information in the student information system and keep the original form in the student’s file.
- Special Education: Before allowing an individual to record, film, photograph or conduct an interview that would identify any student who receives special education services, Form 4011F-3 Public Identification of a Student in Special Education must be completed by the parent/guardian.
- Community partners who are using Bellingham Public Schools facilities for student programs such as preschools or after-school programs are not covered by these student directory information release procedures, but may establish and manage their own procedures as needed.
2. News Media, Student Journalists and Student-Produced News
- To balance the responsibilities of sharing information and protecting student privacy, news media inquiries about Bellingham Public Schools or any individual school, student, staff member, program or initiative are to be directed first to Communications and Community Relations.
- News media includes all external print, broadcast and web media, including higher education journalism students, who need to follow the same procedures as other news media.
- News media does not include Bellingham Public Schools student-produced news, as long as students are the producers and staff are advising. If a BPS student voluntarily poses for a picture/video, or takes part in a student news program/publication or a public event where cameras are allowed, then the information is not gleaned from a confidential education record and the opt-out Form 4011F-1 does not apply. Students may choose to not pose for yearbook and class pictures, but must have a current photo taken for their educational record and maintained in the district’s student information system for safety purposes.
- Staff who are contacted directly by a member of the news media should refer the reporter to Communications and Community Relations, which will work with staff and the media outlet to respond appropriately to the inquiry.
- News releases and notification to the media of potential story or photo opportunities will be coordinated through Communications and Community Relations, with the exception of news about inter-school athletic events, Associated Student Body (ASB) activities, PTA-sponsored events, and release of graduation and honor roll lists. To facilitate a consistent and responsible communication process, Communications and Community Relations will participate in developing and distributing information for release through district communications channels and through the media. As all schools and departments in the district are potential sources for news and feature stories, staff are encouraged to send news and information to Communications and Community Relations.
- In the event that a school site or department seeks to initiate media contact, appropriate notification should be given to Communications and Community Relations. Staff should secure authorization from the principal or administrator before contacting the media. This shall not preclude a staff member from contacting the media as a private individual outside of work hours.
- Once authorized, news media must report to the school’s main office for identification and before going to any part of a school or building or contacting any individual.
- District officials, schools and staff will cooperate with the news media to the extent required and appropriate by law, while ensuring that media coverage does not interfere with teaching and learning. A student or staff member should be informed that he or she has the right to deny an interview or photograph.
3. Other Interview/Video/Film Requests
- Requests from individuals, organizations or television/film production companies to record, film, photograph, or interview students or staff shall be submitted to Communications and Community Relations for consideration. Such activities will be evaluated for alignment with the district’s mission, goals and primary purpose of teaching and learning, impact on the learning environment, and mutual benefit to both the requestor and district/schools.
4. Recording Conversations
- Per state law, it is unlawful to record or intercept private conversation without first obtaining the consent of all the persons engaged in the conversation.
5. Visits from Public Officials/Legislators
- Requests from public officials to visit and tour schools will be coordinated by Communications and Community Relations. Staff who want to arrange a visit to their school/work place should work with their principal/supervisor who will coordinate with Communications and Community Relations.
6. Crisis Communications
- In the case of accidents or emergencies involving students or staff members, Communications and Community Relations will serve as a clearinghouse to provide accurate and timely information.