Public Information Office

“Informing the Public Involves the Community”

2020 Bonar Street, Suite 321, Berkeley, CA 94702
Tel: 510.644.6320 | Fax: 510.540.5358
Mark Coplan, Public Information Officer

Department Overview

The BUSD Public Information Officer (PIO) is responsible for district-level internal and external communications, district website development, public and community engagement, and special events. The PIO can help to prepare or disseminate news releases/briefs for local newspapers/media about events/activities of interest to the citizens of Berkeley.

Because the media, parents and other community members often contact the Public Information Office from or about individual school sites, it is important that schools provide the PIO Office with news about school events and activities.

Communication Study – July, 2011

During the Spring of 2011, we engaged with the community through surveys, community forums, and focus groups to find out how to improve communications with our many constituents.  The result was the Communication Study presented to the School Board on July 6, 2011.

District Policy for Responding to Requests for Information from the Media

The following guide offers tips on how to work with the Public Information Office and the media to promote your school. Please call the office at (510) 644-6320 if you have any questions.

The district is committed to helping reporters get the best possible information for their stories about our public schools in a timely way, with minimal disruption to school programs.

  • Reporters do have limited rights to be at public schools. While the press does have a legal right to go our schools, there are restrictions. They do not have a legal right to interrupt class, and no staff member, student, or parent is ever required to talk to the media. We require all media to check-in at the office, as we do all guests. They are not exempt from this, and our policy is supported by the Attorney General’s office, and is necessary to ensure child safety.
  • All guests require the principal’s permission to visit. When the media do check in, they will be escorted at all times while on school property.
  • As a rule, media (with principal’s permission) may take overall shots of students without permission slips, so long as the students are not identified or singled out.
  • Media inquiries about specific students, including inquiries in police-related matters or activities that have taken place off school grounds and not during the regular school day, should be referred to the Superintendent or the Public Information Officer.

The district has no legal obligation to disclose whether an individual student attends a specific school. Such information is considered a student record and is not public information. General information regarding enrollment is public information.

Parent group presidents/chairs should know that they can also get help from the Public Information Office when they are asked questions by reporters that go beyond their area of expertise or authority. They can ask the PIO to put the reporter in touch with knowledgeable staff who may have pertinent information or a broader view of the situation in question.

District Communications Policies

The BUSD Board of Education has developed board policies regarding district communications and information: