News Media Access to District Schools and Facilities (820.100)

News reporters and other communications representatives must initiate their requests to interview, film, videotape, and/or photograph students and/or district personnel on district property through the Media Relations

Although schools are public buildings, the principal is responsible for maintaining discipline and the safety of all persons in the school.
The principal may, therefore, develop procedures restricting the actions of news media personnel if those actions interfere with the orderly educational process. Likewise, district departments have a right to conduct business in a professional atmosphere, and departmental administrators may limit access to news media representatives, cameras, and other equipment within the department until the Media Relations Department is notified.

The Media Relations Department will contact the school administrator prior to a media visit. If media appear on campus without notifying the Media Relations Department, the school administrator should notify the Media Relations Department and the appropriate chief school office.

No media representatives will be allowed in the school without approval of the principal and notification of the school improvement officer (SIO), and the Media Relations Department. Principals and other administrators, however, are encouraged to assist with any reasonable request for media access and cooperate to the fullest extent possible.

Once contacted by the Media Relations Department, the school administrator or department head may request onsite assistance from the Media Relations Department before allowing access to media representatives. School administrators are encouraged to seek the advice of the Media Relations Department and the SIO on addressing media requests; however, the decision regarding media access to the campus rests with the principal. Maintaining a safe, orderly educational environment on the campus and in the classroom is the most important consideration when working with the news media at the school level, and the building administrator’s judgment in this regard will be the primary factor in determining the extent to which the news media will be allowed access to HISD facilities.

News representatives must first check in at the principal’s office before proceeding to other areas of the school building. Reporters are considered visitors to the campus and are required to sign in at the school office and comply with HISD Board Policies and Administrative Procedures. Media representatives will be escorted by the principal or his or her designee while they are in the building.

In accordance with the Texas Education Code, Title 2—Chapter 37, Sections 37.105, Unauthorized Persons: Refusal of Entry, Ejection, Identification; and 37.107, Trespass on School Grounds, schools may refuse access to media representatives on school property if their presence or behavior would be disruptive to the school environment. Media representative without permission to be on campus should be asked to leave the property and call the HISD Media Relations Department at 713-556-6393.

  • If the media representative refuses to comply with guidelines established by the Media Relations Department and/or the principal (or a designee), the principal or designee must warn the media representative that failure to comply with policies and guidelines regarding access will result in his or her arrest for criminal trespass.
  • If the warning is ignored, the principal or designee should ask the media representative to leave the premises. The principal or designee will immediately contact the HISD Police Department if the media representative fails to leave the premises. Upon the arrival of HISD police officers, the media representative will again be asked, in the presence of the police officers, to leave the premises.
  • If the media representative refuses to comply, the principal (or a designee) may ask the police officers to arrest the media representative.
Media contact is not within the district’s jurisdiction for approval or interruption if it occurs off district property and at non-district-related events.