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misleading report led to death threats

Handling Misleading Reports: A Superintendent’s Response in Ga.

At TrustED, we spend a lot of time talking with school leaders and shining a light on the power of open communication between school leaders and communities.

But as we all know, public dialogue can turn ugly—sometimes, even dangerous.

That’s what happened in DeKalb County, Ga., last week, when DeKalb County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green received death threats after an article in a right-wing news publication alleged that three school district employees were let go, in part, for openly supporting President Donald Trump’s policies.

The district and Dr. Green categorically denied the allegations, saying the employees resigned after making potentially offensive and harmful comments to students about their parents’ immigration status, as reported by NBC 11, a local television station.

Green says all three employees in question were given an opportunity to refute the claims against them. All three chose instead to voluntarily resign.

The actions, however, did not spare Green and his family the threats leveled against them. When asked if he was concerned about the threats in an interview on NBC 11, Dr. Green said:

“It’s cause for concern, certainly. It’s a time for me to be mindful to take the proper precautions to protect me and my family.”


Setting the record straight

The situation in DeKalb is both disturbing and emblematic of a changing culture, one in which information, true or otherwise, can spread quickly, and often unchecked, via social media and online news outlets, not all of which are credible.

Despite the controversy, administrators in DeKalb stood their ground, and reached out to the community through local media to set the record straight.

Have you dealt with inaccurate or misleading news reports in your school community? Are these instances on the rise? If so, what are you doing to engage your school community and set the record straight? Tell us in the comments.

Want more ideas about how to engage your community when misleading or untruthful information about your or your schools goes viral? Read When buzz becomes reality: Controlling misinformation in your school community.