Saturday, May 05, 2007

School 2.0: Squelch Rumors

I picked this story up (When rumors fly, schools vet them...online
BY Jennifer Sinco Kelleher of Newsday)
and thought it expressed a great idea all schools with a decent website should consider. That is that they are open and transparent about altercations at the school, respecting privacy being a given.
Word out on the streets of the Connetquot school district was that an eighth-grader had stabbed a classmate in the neck with a pen.

The rumor could have festered and grown. Pen could have evolved into knife. But the story got quashed when the accurate and less dramatic version appeared April 3 on the district's Web site: There was no stabbing. But one student did hit another on the shoulder with the eraser end of a pencil.

At connetquot.k12.ny.us, there's a link, "Have You Heard a Rumor?" that provides a forum for parents, students and just about anyone who has heard a Connetquot-related tale.

District officials started the link in February last year to keep rumors from getting out of hand and to find out about concerns before it's too late, Superintendent Alan Groveman said.

"We found there was typically a large delay from the time the rumors were out in the community until the time we heard about it," he said.
And more...
The rumors link is helping to improve communication, especially for parents who don't have time to attend meetings, said Rosemary Weaver, president of Connetquot Council of PTAs.

About two years ago in the West Babylon district, officials tried a rumor link on its Web site but soon changed it to "The Question Box," to encompass all school-related inquiries, spokeswoman Nancy Lenz said.

But it hasn't seen a question since June 16 last year. Officials found that people are more inclined to call when a rumor or question surfaces. A large part of Lenz's job is to field those calls.

So far, Groveman said, he hasn't seen any rumors that are too far-fetched, as many turn out to be at least partly accurate.

There are even rumors about the rumors.

Groveman said some have suspected that district officials make up the questions. Not true, Groveman said. "All the questions are real."

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