Monday, August 15

Back To School

Yes, it's that time again, the time when, in my youth, I had three more weeks of vacation time left, the time when my wife comes home with eight-page handouts from her principal and the Superintendent, outlining their "vision" for the coming year in what can best be described as a race between platitudes and exclamation points.

The school year's already started off with a bang! and for once that wasn't the sound of a drive-by shooting or a meth lab blowing up. Down Franklin Township way the district's PR man got himself suspended indefinitely without pay, and it was the finest piece of reality television ever seen in these parts, unless you're old enough to remember the six hours of live will-he-or-won't-he coverage of Tony Kiritsis with his shotgun wired to a mortgage executive's neck.

Last November, first-year teacher and newspaper advisor Chad Tuley got in hot water when the Franklin Central paper printed a front page story about a student arrested at the school on suspicion of murder. Principal Kevin Koers went ballistic, suspended Tuley and told the press he had ordered him not to print the story, a charge Tuley denied. In a later meeting officials decided there had been a misunderstanding, and Tuley returned to teaching though he was barred from the newspaper.

In April Tuley received a poor evaluation and was told he would be transferred to middle school to make room for the new journalism advisor the school had hired. He filed suit. Last week WISH-TV 8 sent its education reporter Leslie Olsen (or, as she pronounces it, "Lethly Olthen") to catch up with Tuley as he unpacked his stuff at his new assignment. Olsen had received permission from the principal to tape inside the school. In the middle of the report in barges the PR guy, former Star reporter Scott Miley, yelling at her to get out NOW! Miley was a print journalist, so it's understandable that he didn't quite catch the reason a camera was there. Olsen rather calmly tried to explain that she had permission to be in the building. Miley at one point informed her that she was "on private property", thereby explaining how he got his job with the Star. At another point Miley turned to Tuley, who was off camera, and shouted, "Do you understand me? Don't just stand there, say Yes or No!"

Eight ran the tape that evening, and like clockwork the Superintendent of Franklin Schools issued a public apology and suspended Miley. The Star coverage the next day said he'd been suspeded for "raising his voice" and noted Olsen had "challenged (his) request that she not conduct interviews on school property" while failing to mention she already had permission to do so.

I don't know if my wife has any contacts in Franklin Township, but there are two burning questions local media isn't going to answer for me. One, who ratted on Olsen to the admistration offices? And two, why does a public school system need a PR director, let alone one who imagines he outranks teachers?

1 comment:

Hokie said...

The district has a PR guy? Wow.