Why Media Release Matters

Casandra Workman, Co-President

Facebook: The privacy saga continues
photo: opensourceway

Although some schools have suffered through the Media Release headache, other schools are just now getting their first look at the policy and what it means for their publication. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), parents and students have the right to limit what information schools may access, and distribute, about their child. This includes information such as name, pictures, social security number, disabilities, ethnicity, grades, and many other factors.

What does this mean for yearbook and newspaper programs? It means that before publishing a student’s picture and/or name in print or online, schools must now verify that the parent has given permission for their child’s name and image to be used. Seems pretty straight forward, right? Unfortunately, just like schools, parents are struggling with this form as well. Namely because the policy for collecting and using the information differs from school to school, and the form itself isn’t exactly clear in the explanation of the policy.

Yet, as advisers and student staffers, we are held liable to any consequence resulting from using information that a parent has not allowed us permission to use. Some of these consequences could have legal ramifications if the parent takes it to court. Other consequences could involve harm coming to children involved in difficult custody battles, or other such serious situations.

As advisers of journalists, our responsibility includes that to our readers, even if it means respecting their rights and protecting them. The media release is meant for parents to restrict access to information from being publicly posted by the school or district, or both. So before choosing a picture for a spread or news article, before posting quotes online for your news site, take a moment to identify your school’s media release policy. Find out who can be used in the newspaper or yearbook. Help protect your reader and respect their rights as students. If there is no clear policy or list, be the voice at your school that starts the conversation.


Related Articles:

Lawsuit Charges Ed Department with violating student privacy rights


Avoiding FERPA Problems when Faculty Disclose Student Grades

photo by: opensourceway
Casandra Workman

About Casandra Workman

Cassie Workman has been a CCSD teacher for 15 years, with a Bachelor's of Science in Education with a focus on English, and a Master's in Technology in Education. She is co-president of the Southern Nevada Society of Journalists, and has advised yearbooks at Shadow Ridge and Centennial High School, and newspapers at Morris Sunset East and Shadow Ridge High Schools. She was recognized as a Certified Journalism Educator (CJE) in 2012, and hopes to expand journalistic achievement in Clark County and promoting the importance of yearbook and newspaper programs. She currently teaches Graphic Design at Centennial, and in her spare time, she likes to watch Big Bang Theory, take pictures, and try new things. She has four furry children: her dogs, Darcy and Newton Winston, and her two cats, Reese and Jasper.