School district guards gates to media
The atmosphere around Eagle County schools lately has school district officials concerned.
“Because of the Kobe Bryant nightmare, we’re no longer going to allow people to talk to the students without going through us first,” said Pam Holmes Boyd, spokeswoman for the Eagle County School District. “We’re denying all access to people who want to talk to the students about Kobe issues.”
The intent isn’t to shut down the lines of communication, she said, but school district officials don’t want to let their students be hounded by the media.
“We don’t want people hanging around the school while the kids are at lunch, trying to get them on camera,” Boyd said.
Some of the schools have a closed campus, allowing only the senior class to leave the school grounds for lunch.
“We saw a flurry at the beginning (of the case),” said Nelson Gould, principal of Eagle Valley High School. “But most of the people were on vacation at that time.”
He said anyone walking through the school during the day can be disruptive.
“In the past, anyone who wasn’t supposed to be in the school was a disruption,” he said. “When the fire service was here setting things up for the fires, that was a zoo. But we got through it all right.”
Under district policy and Colorado law, the district has the right to control activities on public school property that interfere with teaching and other activities, school officials said.
“Our focus is to provide a safe and orderly learning environment for the students,” said John Brendza, the school district’s superintendent. “We are very concerned about disruptions to that environment because of the intense media presence in this valley. Simply put, neither our students nor our staff will benefit from disruptions in their schools caused by people who are seeking information on the Kobe Bryant case.”
Not too long ago, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said they worried about the kids being subjected to false media attention.
“For some of these predators out there, this frenzy could be a feeding ground for them,” Kim Andree, public information officer for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, said earlier in the summer.
The Sheriff’s Office received calls from kids relaying experiences of agreeing to personal, exclusive interviews with members of the media in which money was part of the exchange, Andree said.
“We’re hearing from different aspects about money being offered to these kids, and then they never pull it off,” she said. “It’s a personal safety concern for us, but we’re more concerned with the kids becoming comfortable talking with people outside of the community – strangers – and getting into a hotel room with them if they’re not a member of the media.
“It’s a concern for the parents, and it’s a concern for the kids.”
Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or at email@example.com.