put in place, you can put the reporters in contact with those school leaders and/or conduct a site visit to put real words and a visual to the story. When you are ready to move forward with a newsworthy event, then you will already have the list of reporters to contact in advance to invite to the event and they will have information about the problem and the solutions. an attachment to read your press release, and you won’t have to spend extra time formatting it. Why is news media coverage even important? How else can I keep a focus on school discipline reforms? Press coverage is important because it can help to engage more school members in the reforms, educate parents and others about the problems and solutions and solicit their involvement in the effort, and help keep the issue in the forefront and emphasizes its importance. If the school community is in denial about the school discipline practices being a problem, a strong story with real facts and real stories can change the equation. When you have a victory around school discipline, it is important to share it with the news media, as this can also help with implementation and really memorialize the changes you were able to make so you can share them with more people in the community who might want to get involved. How do I let the news media know about any events or action items that are being planned around fixing school discipline and what information should I be prepared to give them? You already made a list of all the news media in your area, so you will want to send them a press alert or release that tells them the three “W”s about your event, namely who, what and when. We have attached a sample press release on the next page. Try to send this out at least two days before the event, if you can. Also, it is very important to followup with phone calls. In the press release, let the media know who will be available for interviews, such as teachers, parents, and students. I’ve written a press release. Now what? Here’s where having your reporter list really helps. When it’s time to send out your press release, you’ll know where the reporters are and how to reach them. It’s usually best to just paste your press release into the body of the email. Reporters won’t have to open 84 How we can fix school discipline Don’t count on email to do your job for you. Always call reporters after you’ve sent the email and ask them: will you be able to cover this event? Don’t assume they have already received the press release. You can also create a broader communications strategy to highlight the data on discipline and the changes you are making with the community. You can create a Public Service Announcement for parents, asking them to volunteer at their local schools and help create safe passages for students. You could create a district-wide campaign to encourage community volunteers and community based organizations to partner with the school district to provide interventions to students struggling with behavior issues, such as after-school programs, mentors, and folks trained in conflict resolution. As suggested in the model policy, you can set aside clear times on the Board agenda for reports on how the school discipline reform efforts are proceeding and for parents, students and others to provide input! When schools successfully implement alternatives to discipline and they start seeing the increases in attendance, achievement, and school funding, make certain to call reporters and send out a press release so that those strong stories about positive change are highlighted. They can inspire more schools and districts to get on board quickly with the reform efforts!