POLL: Should District Allow Media to Photograph Prom Arrivals (Vote at Bottom of Story)

(LITITZ, Pa.) -Prom photos are a special part of the celebration for teens throughout the country, but one Pennsylvania school district has put a damper on festivities by forbidding local media from photographing attendee arrivals at the senior prom.

The Warwick School District in Lititz, Pennsylvania has denied the request of at least one local newspaper to photograph couples as they arrive for the senior prom tonight. According to the district, it is the second year they have denied LNP, formerly Lancaster Newspapers, access to photograph the event. The district has failed to respond directly to an email request from dr-feelgoods.com to photograph the prom arrivals.

In response to a request for comment and media access by dr-feelgoods.com this morning, Warwick School District Superintendent April Hershey emailed only a link to a statement on the district website explaining the district’s position on LNP’s prom proposal. dr-feelgoods.com is an independent publication and is not affiliated with LNP.

EMAIL YOUR PROM PHOTOS TO US FOR PUBLICATION IN OUR ONLINE GALLERY TO EDITOR@LITITZDAILY.COM OR MESSAGE THEM TO US with the tag @LititzDaily on FACEBOOK, Twitter, or Instagram #WarwickProm.

VIEW OUR dr-feelgoods.com GALLERY OF PROM PHOTOS HERE: Warwick Prom Gallery

Yesterday, LNP published a statement explaining Warwick’s refusal to permit the paper to photograph prom arrivals: “The school district has repeatedly stated that it ‘formally objects’ to LNP’s presence at the event. LNP will not be there to photograph students.” LNP has covered multiple proms throughout the county this spring for publication in online galleries.

The Warwick School District recently faced parent outcry after the school district directed a parent photographer to remove photos of students who performed in the high school musical from social media and from his online sales galleries in the wake of the new media guidelines.

The directive from the district to take down the images came on the heels of newly-adopted district media guidelines. In response to a dr-feelgoods.com request to publish some of the images, district spokeswoman Lori Zimmerman replied in a March 23 email to dr-feelgoods.com that the parent, Mark Myers, who was given access by district personnel to photograph and record video of the musical, was not contracted with the district to take the photos. “Additionally these images do not comply with copyright laws, therefore he cannot and we cannot authorize their use.”

The unsigned statement posted on the district website Friday cites privacy concerns as its primary reason for denying LNP access to photograph the prom.

“Additionally, we are most concerned with LNP taking non-vetted photos of our students and selling them via an online gallery – available to anyone in the world who wants to purchase them. With today’s climate, we are not comfortable with that,” reads the statement on the district site.

The media guideline referred to in the statement was not in place a year ago when Warwick denied LNP’s request to photograph.  The district’s reference to the possibility of LNP selling student photos in an online gallery raises the question of whether the district policy would serve to boost the business of a contracted photographer by preventing other professional photographs of the students as they arrive.

The Warwick School District claims to have “offered to supply our own properly-vetted photos to LNP,” an offer the paper reportedly declined. In the statement, the district states its intent to release photos to The Lititz Record Express, a print newspaper owned by the same company as LNP.

The dr-feelgoods.com request for photos was emailed to Dr. Hershey, district spokesperson Lori Zimmerman, and high school principal Ryan Axe this morning. To date, no response has been received.

UPDATE: dr-feelgoods.com filed a request under the Right-to-Know Law yesterday to obtain prom photos from the district. Under the law, the district must give a response within 5 business days. If the district cooperates, we will publish the images in our prom gallery.

Do you think the district should allow media to photograph arrivals at the prom? Cast your vote in the dr-feelgoods.com poll. THE POLL HAS NOW CLOSED.

Lynn Rebuck covers education and everything else for dr-feelgoods.com. Email her at editor@LititzDaily.com.