Last week, Payson School District administrators took a phenomenal leap forward by amending their policy on crisis communication.
For years, parents have voiced concerns over the cloud of secrecy that surrounded incidents of drug use, violence with injuries and weapons on campus.
The vail placed in front of these incidents was hung on a law designed to protect the identities of minor students and to maintain confidentiality. That law was never meant to keep parents in the dark and fuel rumors.
Last week, the school's long-standing policy was put to the test when a high school student was seen on campus with a shotgun. Following the district's secretive policy, administrators withheld details of the event, causing parents undue worry and allowing rumors to spread like wildfire.
Those rumors proved to be much more destructive than the actual event.
This incident gave the district's new superintendent, Herb Weissenfels, the chance to show the public just how responsive he can be to parental concerns. Two days after the student was arrested, Weissenfels called key school officials into a meeting and emerged with a policy that provides for better communication between school administrators, parents, students and teachers.
The new policy on crisis communication does not permit school officials to reveal the names of minor students and is not meant to embarrass or implicate. It is designed to inform and reassure.
District staff members have, for the first time in recent memory, been directed to release statements to parents, teachers and the media.
We applaud school officials for this new approach and think they will find that well-informed parents are supportive ones.