For the Record - 11/28/2005

For the Record... Response to News Media Coverage of Gwinnett County Public Schools

In today's news media, the lines between legitimate news, editorial opinion, and "infotainment" can become blurred. Add to that tight deadlines and a rush to "get the story" and the result may be news coverage that is less accurate, balanced, and fair than it could be-- and should be.

Unfortunately, when erroneous or misleading stories appear in the news media, there are limited ways to counter the incorrect or incomplete information. In addition to asking the news media for a correction, many organizations are devising their own means for providing audiences with additional information and advising them of details not found in news media stories. That is why Gwinnett County Public Schools has set up "For the Record..." This space will be used to correct or clarify media stories about the school system, provide a context when one is lacking, point out errors in fact and editorializing, and also applaud news stories that are especially well done.

For the Record... will be updated daily and indexed by week, so you are encouraged to check the site regularly. Call the Department of Communication & Media Relations at 678-301-6020 with questions or comments.

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Corrections and Clarifications for the Week of 11/28/2005

November 28, 2005
No corrections or clarifications needed.

November 29, 2005
No corrections or clarifications needed.

November 30, 2005
No corrections or clarifications needed.

December 1, 2005
The following is clarification on the stories about Brookwood High's dress code that appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Gwinnett Daily Post today. The ruling on the motions for summary judgment is simply one stage of the legal process. In fact, the court granted in part and denied in part the motions for both parties. Key points regarding the case include:
- The court found no violation of the student's First Amendment rights as the individual's style of dress is not entitled to constitutional protection.
- In addition, the court found that the school has a legitimate interest in prohibiting the wearing of "gang attire," namely to promote a safe and orderly learning environment.
- Brookwood High's dress code was found to pass the rational basis test in that it is related to the school's legitimate concern.
- The plaintiff's request for declaratory and injunctive relief to the current dress code was denied.

Both the student and the parent were given prior warnings about the dress code and specifically gang attire, including some of the gang identifiers. Gang wear does change often. To address this, the school's dress code states that students are prohibited from wearing "clothing or symbols that have been identified by the Gwinnett County Police Gang Taskforce as being commonly identified with gangs" and then goes on to include examples. The court has upheld that part of the dress code.

The student was disciplined for disrespectful conduct and for being verbally abusive when questioned about his attire. This behavior was the primary offense. The basis for the discipline gets to the heart of the court's question about the material facts of the case-- Was the student disciplined for violating the regulations or his possession of headgear and/or disrespectful conduct on each of the three occasions in question? This is what will be settled by a jury.

December 2, 2005
There are corrections to the Gwinnett Daily Post story “40 Gwinnett teachers earn top credential.” A total of 42 (not 40) teachers earned NBCT. Susan Kramer of Peachtree Ridge HS and Terry Starner of Duncal Creek ES were left off the list. In addition, two names were incorrect (these people changed their names after they began the process): Kimberly Casey of Lanier MS (not Kimberly Eason), and Kathy Risch of Sugar Hill ES (not Kathryn Lucia).