1 PUBLIC RELATIONS/GOALS AND OBJECTIVES KA The Board, in an effort to ensure and enhance the possibilities for excellence in the education of our children in a free society, presents and endorses this statement of policy on school and community relations because of its conviction that (a) the public schools belong in every sense to the people who created them by consent, and support them by taxation; (b) the schools are only as strong as the intelligent and informed support of the people of the community, and never any stronger; and (c) the support of the people must be based upon their knowledge of the public schools. The Board therefore reaffirms and declares its design and intent: To keep the citizens of the community regularly and thoroughly informed through all the channels of communication on all the policies, programs, and planning of the school system, and to carry out this policy through its own efforts and the offices of the Superintendent of Schools and the director of school- community relations, to invite the advice and counsel of the people of the school system at all times and especially at all monthly meetings of the Board except at executive sessions, and to solicit the sound thinking and studied counsels of the people through advisory committees selected from the community and appointed by this Board to consider those problems which vitally affect the future of our children. PUBLIC INFORMATION PROGRAM KB It is the desire of the Board that the citizens of the community be fully informed of the official actions of the Board and programs and activities of the district. To this end, the Board directs the superintendent s work to make the public fully aware of all aspects of the schools by: 1. Keeping the public informed regarding the policies, administrative operation, objectives, educational program, and successes or failures of the schools. 2. Furnishing full and accurate information, favorable or unfavorable, together with interpretations and explanations of the school plans and programs. School-Sponsored Media COMMUNICATION WITH THE PUBLIC The superintendent and his/her staff are encouraged to use all available school-sponsored media of communication, such as publications, radio and TV, to keep the goals, programs, achievements and needs of the schools before the public.
2 He/She may delegate authority to his/her central administrative staff and to the school principals as he/she sees fit. But the ultimate responsibility for their performance is his/hers. It is this Board's belief and faith that citizens who are adequately informed will vote more constructively in bond elections. The administration is responsible for all informational services to and from the public except for such matters as the Board may from time to time wish to deal with publicly itself. Announcements to Parents and the General Public Materials for district-wide distribution will be released through the central office and carry the approval of representatives of the superintendent's staff. The principal of each school is responsible for routine school announcements to the parents of his/her school. He/she will keep a file copy of all such releases for needed future reference, for at least two years. All such announcements and releases of individual school activities must be cleared by the principal before being released. School Sponsored Publications, Radio and Television Publications issued by and in the name of the schools of this district shall reflect the high regard and aspirations of this community s people for their schools. There must be no compromise with high quality of editorial content and effective format. The exercise of appropriate economy in materials and production is expected so long as the main purpose is not jeopardized. Regular and special radio and TV programs shall be consistent with the goals of district schools approved by the Board. It is important that such programs also reflect the high regard and aspirations of the people for their schools. School District Directory The School District Directory will be distributed only to those governmental agencies and other schoolrelated parties which have been authorized by the superintendent. A copy of the directory will always be available in the superintendent's office for review by interested persons. Individual School Publications Each school may, with the approval of the principal, establish a school newspaper for the children of the school and their parents. Such publications should be carefully prepared if undertaken. The principal is responsible for supervising such publications to conform with the intent of Board policy on communications with the public. Commercial establishments whose primary source of revenue is the sale of intoxicants will not be permitted to appear as advertisers in school publications.
3 Communications from Outside the Schools Students and faculty of the schools shall be protected from intrusions on their time by announcements, posters, bulletins and communications of any kind from individuals and organizations not directly connected with the schools. The principals shall interpret this policy strictly. Exceptions may be made when, in their judgment, the best interests of the students will be served. In case of differences of opinion, the decision of the Superintendent of Schools will be final. Publications, Radio and Television This Board invites and welcomes the active interest and participation of newspapers, magazines, radio and television and other mass media of communication in promoting the cause of good education in our city and elsewhere. The school district's public relations director should be contacted for input. Newscasts, spot announcements, sports, coverage of other school activities and programs dealing with the schools must be presented in the public interest. No identification of the schools with the promotion of any commercial or political enterprise shall be permitted. Students enrolled in the school district who appear on radio or TV programs during or after school hours shall not be permitted to associate the name of a particular school, school activity, or the school district with the promotion of any commercial or political enterprise. Commercial Mass Media It is the responsibility of the principal to be advised of and to supervise all radio and television presentations made in the individual school through the school district's public relations director. Students who represent the school through such media should have prior permission from the principal, who should obtain full information concerning the presentation. The school district's public relations director is designated by the principal and should be assigned the responsibility for informing communications media of newsworthy school activities. Faculties should be informed that suggestions for such releases must be channeled through this individual. CROSS REF.: Policies BCBI Public Participation at Board Meetings KBA Public s Right to Know KCB Community Involvement in Decision Making PUBLIC S RIGHT TO KNOW KBA The public has every right to observe the process, but not to control the proceedings. The formation and determination of public policy is public business and shall be conducted at open meetings except as otherwise provided by law. Except as otherwise provided by MS Code sections and , this school district declares all public records to be public property, and any person shall have the right to inspect, copy or mechanically
4 reproduce or obtain a reproduction of any public record in accordance with the district s adopted written procedures concerning the cost, time, place and method of access This district shall establish and collect fees reasonably calculated to reimburse it for, and in no case exceed, the actual cost of searching, reviewing and/or duplicating and, if applicable, mailing copies of public records LEGAL REF.: MS CODE as cited CROSS REF.: Policies BCBI - Public Participation at Board Meetings CN-R - Access to Public Records KB - Public Information Program KCB - Community Involvement in Decision making MEDIA ACCESS TO SCHOOL CAMPUSES, STAFF AND STUDENTS KBB It shall be the policy of this School Board that access to school campuses shall be by permission granted by the Superintendent of Schools or his/her designee on all occasions. Without such authority having been granted, all representatives of the media will be denied access to the campuses, buildings, staff or students of the schools, and principals are hereby instructed to deny such access. The district is committed to providing up-to-date information about the district and its activities in a timely and appropriate manner. It is the responsibility of the Board of Education and superintendent to maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning with as few disruptions as possible. All requests should be directed to the office of the superintendent, whose responsibility it shall be to issue in writing permission for all access. CROSS REF.: Policies KB Public Information Program KM Visitors to the Schools NEWS-MEDIA RELATIONS KBC The Board wishes to assist the press and other communications media to obtain complete and adequate coverage of the programs, problems, planning, and activities of the school system. All representatives of the media shall be given equal access to information about the schools. General releases of interest to the entire district shall be made available to all the media simultaneously. There shall be no exclusive releases except as media representatives request information on particular programs, plans, or problems. The Board shall review periodically district relations with the news media. District personnel are urged to take advantage of opportunities to publicize the schools and the work that is going on in them. Personnel should try to keep the public informed by getting newspaper coverage for projects or studies and, where possible, radio and television coverage.
5 NEWS RELEASES KBCA The Superintendent or public relations director will be the press liaison person for coordinating the release of information concerning the school system and action of the Board. The Board President shall be the official spokesman for the Board, except as this duty is delegated to the Superintendent. Teachers and other staff members shall submit news or news releases regarding the classroom and other school activities to the school public relations director who shall submit copies to the Superintendent or his/her designee for appropriate action. BOARD MEETING NEWS COVERAGE KBCC The Board believes that one of its responsibilities is to keep the public informed of its actions. Therefore, representatives of the local news media shall be permitted to attend all regular, special and annual meetings of the Board. BOARD-COMMUNITY RELATIONS KC The Board desires to establish and maintain a good working relation with the community and as such shall give due consideration to requests from community agencies. However, the Board shall not turn over to any community group responsibility which may involve school administration, instruction, or student supervision. Also see BCBI Public Participation in Board Meetings. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN DECISION MAKING KCB "The public has every right to observe the process, but not to control the proceedings." Community participation in the affairs of the schools is an important facet of achieving improved quality of education for the students. Therefore, the board intends to make every effort to identify the desires of the community and to be responsive to those desires. Citizens of the district will be encouraged to express their ideas, concerns, and judgments about the schools through (1) written suggestions or proposals, (2) presentations at hearings, (3) responses to surveys made through interviews, written instruments, (4) comments at meetings of the board, and (5) service on citizens' advisory committees. The advice of the public will be carefully considered. In the evaluation of such advice, the first concern will be the educational program as it affects students.
6 COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT The governing authorities of the county, counties or city in which a school district is located and the school board of each school district shall develop a five-year plan to encourage community involvement with the schools in such district. Districts meeting Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall be exempted from the mandatory provisions of this section AD VALOREM TAXES The aggregate receipts from ad valorem taxes levied for school district purposes, excluding collection fees, pursuant to this section and Section shall be subject to the increased limitation under Section ; however, if the ad valorem tax effort in dollars requested by the school district for the fiscal year exceeds the next preceding fiscal year's ad valorem tax effort in dollars by more than four percent (4%) but not more than seven percent (7%), then the school board shall publish notice thereof once each week for at least three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in the school district involved, with the first publication thereof to be made not less than fifteen (15) days prior to the final adoption of the budget by the school board. If at any time prior to said adoption a petition signed by not less than twenty percent (20%) or fifteen hundred (1500), whichever is less, of the qualified electors of the school district involved shall be filed with the school board requesting that an election be called on the question of exceeding the next preceding fiscal year's ad valorem tax effort in dollars by more than four percent (4%) but not more than seven percent (7%), then the school board shall, not later than the next regular meeting, adopt a resolution calling an election to be held within such school district upon such question. The election shall be called and held, and notice thereof shall be given, in the same manner for elections upon the questions of the issuance of the bonds of school districts, and the results thereof shall be certified to the school board. The ballot shall contain the language "For the School Tax Increase Over Four Percent (4%)" and "Against the School Tax Increase Over Four Percent (4%)." If a majority of the qualified electors of the school district who voted in such election shall vote in favor of the question, then the stated increase requested by the school board shall be approved. For the purposes of this paragraph, the revenue sources excluded from the increased limitation under Section shall also be excluded from the limitation described herein in the same manner as they are excluded under Section ' (2002) Unless the increased revenue in a budget is derived solely from the expansion of a school district s ad valorem tax base, a school district shall not budget an increase in an ad valorem tax effort in dollars for support of the school district unless it first advertises its intention to do so at the same time that it advertises its intention to fix its budget for the next fiscal year. A request for an ad valorem tax effort in dollars for the support of the school district in excess of the certified tax rate pursuant to Sections and shall not be levied until an order has been approved by the school board of the school district in accordance with the procedure set forth in Section , Mississippi Code of When an advertisement is required under this section, it shall be in the form set forth in Section , and shall include the following language:
7 Any citizen of the South Panola School District is invited to attend this public hearing on the proposed ad valorem tax increase, and will be allowed to speak for a reasonable amount of time and offer tangible evidence before any vote is taken. The school board of the school district, after the hearing has been held in accordance with the procedures set forth in Section , may adopt an order requesting the levying of an ad valorem tax effort in dollars in excess of the certified tax rate. If such order is not adopted on the day of the public hearing, the scheduled date, time and place for consideration and adoption of the order shall be announced at the public hearing (1999) BOND REFERENDUM (1) Before any money shall be borrowed under the provisions of this chapter, this school board shall adopt a resolution declaring the necessity for borrowing such money, declaring its intention to borrow such money and to issue the negotiable bonds of the school district as evidence of same, specifying the amount to be borrowed, and how such indebtedness is to be evidenced. Such resolution shall also set forth the nature and approximate cost of the alterations, additions and repairs to be made, and shall declare in said resolution that no funds are available in the school funds of the district or from any other source with which to make such repairs, alterations, additions, purchases, erections or improvements. (2) Whenever a resolution is adopted by this school board as provided in subsection (1), or a petition signed by not less than ten percent (10%) of the qualified electors of a school district, fixing the maximum amount of such school bonds and the purpose or purposes for which they are to be issued, this school board shall adopt a resolution calling an election to be held within this school district for the purpose of submitting to the qualified electors thereof the question of the issuance of bonds in the amount and for the purpose or purposes as set forth in such resolution or petition. The resolution calling such election shall designate the date upon which the election shall be held and the place or places within such district at which such election shall be held, which place or places may or may not be the school house or school houses in such district (1987) BUDGET ADOPTION Prior to the adoption of a budget pursuant to this section, this school board shall hold at least one (1) public hearing to provide the general public with an opportunity to comment on the taxing and spending plan incorporated in the proposed budget. The public hearing will be held at least one (1) week prior to the adoption of the budget with advance notice. After final adoption of the budget, a synopsis of such budget in a form prescribed by the State Department of Audit shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation in the school district on a date different from the date on which the county or any municipality therein may publish its budget (3) (1994) CODE OF STUDENT CONDUCT / THE SCHOOL SAFETY ACT OF 2001 For information related to student conduct, disciplinary action, and the School Safety Act of 2001, please refer to MS CODE and sample policy JCB - Code of Conduct. LEGAL REF.: MS CODE as cited Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards (2007) CROSS REF.: Policies KB - Public Information Program KBA - Public s Right to Know
8 STAFF/STUDENT COMMUNITY RELATIONS SCHOOL PARTICIPATION IN COMMUNITY DRIVES KD/JO/LB Schools may participate in community fund raising drives, clothing collections, and similar activities only when participation has been approved by the superintendent. No activity may be undertaken wherein reward or recognition for participation is given on individual or group basis without prior approval of the superintendent. SOLICITATIONS BY STAFF MEMBERS KDCA Teachers are not to collect funds from students for any purpose without the permission of the principal. SOLICITATIONS OF STAFF MEMBERS KDCB No fund raising organizations will be allowed to solicit funds from staff members or students without the permission of the superintendent. Solicitation of individual staff members is prohibited except in instances of school district approved solicitations of health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, legal insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, and deferred compensation products which have the approval of the school administration. Arrangements for individual or group conferences will be made with the building administrator. STUDENT COMMUNITY RELATIONS SOLICITATIONS BY STUDENTS KEBB/JHBA/KD/LB For purposes of good organization and management in the maintenance of effective school-community relations, requests for participation in activities requiring solicitations by students must be approved by the superintendent. Requests should be made at least thirty (30) days prior to the activity. The school district reserves the right not to participate in any fund-raising activities. Principals of individual schools will not make this decision, which will be made on a district-wide basis. See policy JHBA, Fund-Raising Activities. USE OF FACILITIES KG The Board supports the use of school buildings and grounds by individual district residents, any association club or corporation, any county, municipality or other political subdivision, to be used for civic, community, recreational, youth, or church purposes. The Superintendent shall establish reasonable regulations for the proper community use of buildings and grounds and equal consideration of the application of all eligible groups.
9 The Board may require a fee for the use of buildings by individuals, groups or city functions. The fee will be used to pay school personnel for the opening and closing and general clean-up of the facilities. GIFTS TO STAFF MEMBERS GRATUITIES ALL EMPLOYEES KHD The South Panola School District prohibits the acceptance of gratuities and/or gifts by members of the school staff from persons and/or firms or other organizations with interests, either directly or indirectly, in any contract made or let by the district or in the proceeds or profits from sale or rental of any materials of any kind used in the school district. Many school patrons in their sincere effort to express appreciation to school employees at various times participate in money-raising campaigns among parents in order to purchase gifts for school employees. These activities are often misunderstood, frequently cause embarrassment to our personnel and are illegal. No public servant shall use his official position to obtain pecuniary benefit for himself other than that compensation provided for by law, or to obtain pecuniary benefit for any relative or any business with which he is associated (1) (1994) There shall be no fund raising for gifts, or any gift giving, or any exchange of gifts. This does not in any way prohibit Christmas and other parties that are held in schools where students contribute for food and refreshments. The policy is designed to stop solicitation of funds for gifts. LEGAL REF.: MS CODE as cited CROSS REF.: Policies KHE - Gifts to Schools; DM-1 - Fixed Assets Accountability Plan GIFTS TO SCHOOLS KHE The superintendent, on behalf of the Board, is authorized to accept gifts to particular schools or the district. He/she shall report such acceptance to the Board, which shall officially acknowledge the gifts and thank the donors. In instances where the superintendent doubts the appropriateness or usefulness of a gift, he/she shall refer the offer to the Board for its decision. Assets which are donated to the school district must be recorded at their fair market value at the date of donation. The School Board must acknowledge in their official minutes who will maintain title of ownership of the donated assets. NOTE: During the 1998 Legislative Sessions, MS Code Section was amended: 1. To provide that the governing authorities of a municipality may donate such lands and necessary funds related thereto to the public school district in which the land is situated for the purposes set forth in Section (1). 2. To provide that The governing authorities of any municipality may, in its discretion, donate personal property or funds to the public school district or districts located in the municipality for the promotion of educational programs of the district or districts within the municipality. LEGAL REF.: MS CODE as cited CROSS REF.: Policies DFK - Gifts and Bequests to School District; DM-1 - Fixed Asset Plan; KHD
10 FREE MATERIALS KI Free materials from commercial, political, religious, or other non-school sources may be used in the schools only with the permission of the Superintendent of Schools or his/her designee. Careful consideration will be given to their educational quality and value. The name of a commercial firm or other organization shall appear on a free teaching aid. ADVERTISING IN SCHOOLS/USE OF SCHOOLS TO PUBLICIZE COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES KJ No advertising of commercial products, services or religious beliefs shall be permitted in school buildings or on school grounds or properties. This policy does not prevent advertising in student publications, which are published by student organizations, subject to administration control, nor the use of commercially-sponsored free teaching aids if the content is approved by the administration. Solicitation of sales or use of the name of the school system to promote any product or religious belief shall not be permitted. Advertisements and Posters Public: Students: Such practices as allowing advertising and posters should be avoided as often as possible. Under no conditions may public advertisements with profit motives be condoned without explicit permission from the Superintendent of Schools. Any public advertisement may be announced or posted in the school only after permission from the Superintendent of Schools has been granted. Student advertisements, posters, and handouts before released, revealed, or given to students must be cleared through the principal s office. Appearances, Films, Performances Neither the faculties, the staff, nor the children of the schools shall be employed in any manner for advertising or otherwise promoting the interest of any commercial, political, or other non-school agency, individual or organization, except that: The schools may cooperate in furthering the work of any non-profit community-wide social service agency, provided that such cooperation does not restrict or impair the educational program of the schools. The schools may use films or other educational materials bearing only simple mention of the producing firm and provided such materials can be justified on the basis of their actual educational values. The Superintendent may, at his/her discretion, announce or authorize to be announced, any lecture, community activity, or film of particular educational merit. The schools may, upon approval of the Superintendent, cooperate with any agency in promoting activities in the general public interest which are non-partisan and non-commercial, and which promote the education or other best interests of the student. CROSS REF.: Policy DK - Student Activities Fund Management
11 ADVERTISING IN STUDENT PUBLICATIONS KJA The advertising of commercial products or services is permitted in student publications which are published by student organizations subject to administrative control and subject to reasonable publication rates established by such organization. Solicitation of sales or the use of the name of the school system to promote any product shall not be permitted. PUBLIC USE OF SCHOOL RECORDS KL/BCBH/JR/LDDB In compliance with Senate Bill No of the Mississippi Code, known as Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983, access by any person to examine and/or copy public records of the School District will be provided under the following procedure. 1. Any person wishing to examine and/or copy allowable record information must complete the required form for access to school records, specifying the nature, location, and description of the record sought. 2. All requests to inspect, copy, mechanically reproduce, or obtain a reproduction of any public record in this school district shall be submitted in writing to the office of the Superintendent of Schools between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on any school work day. Requests for inspection of records shall be honored at such time as the documents are not being used in the day-to-day operation of the schools, but in no event later than fourteen (14) school days from the date of receipt of the request. (Minutes of the Board of Trustees are unofficial until such time as the Board approves them; therefore, minutes may not be reviewed until final Board approval.) 3. Any approved request form will indicate the time, place, and method by which access to examine records will be permitted. Copies of allowable written information will be assessed a fee including hourly cost for search and reviewing and actual costs of postage. Fees will be collectable in advance. 4. Denial for access to or copies of public records under this act shall be in writing and shall contain a statement of the specific reasons for the denial, written on the Access form. Denials for access shall be preserved on file for not less than three (3) years from the date such denials are made. 5. Exemptions from the provisions of the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983 will be as follows: A. Records which are developed among judges and their aides which affect the School District and its employees shall be exempt. B. Records in the possession of the School district which are developed among juries concerning judicial decisions are exempt.
12 C. Personnel records and applications for employment, except those which may be released to the person who made the application or with the prior written consent of the person who made the application, shall be exempt. D. Test questions and answers in the possession of the School District which are to be used in employment examinations shall be exempt. E. Letters of recommendation, respecting any application for employment, shall be exempt. F. Records which represent or constitute the work product of attorney, district attorney, or county prosecuting attorney representing the School District or are related to litigation or communications between such attorneys in the course of an attorney-client relationship shall be exempt. G. Records which would disclose information about a person's individual tax payment or status shall be exempt. H. Appraisal information which concerns the sale of real or personal property for public purposes, where the release of such records would have a detrimental effect on such purchase, shall be exempt. I. Test questions and answers which are used in future academic examinations shall be exempt. J. Financial information of a proprietary nature shall be exempt. K. Records that are maintained regarding the process of detection and investigation of unlawful activity. L. All educational records covered under the Federal Privacy Act. M. Records which are confidential or privileged, or provided by constitutional, statutory or case law, state or federal. N. Records furnished by third parties containing trade secrets or confidential commercial/financial information. Student Records See policies JR, LDDB, JBCD. Personnel Records Employee personnel records including personnel reports submitted to State Department of Education shall not be available for access for the purpose of reviewing or copying. References to personnel actions taken by the Board of Trustees and recorded in the minutes shall be by reference number to the master personnel file maintained in the office of the Superintendent of Schools. Charges All applicable charges permitted under the law governing the public use of school records shall be paid to the school district in advance of complying with the request. A fee schedule shall be established to reimburse the school district for the actual cost of searching, reviewing, and/or duplicating and, if applicable, mailing, copies of school records.