A Top Priority: To Accurately Communicate with Our Community

What’s happening in our schools?  

What does student success look like for Cobb students?  

How do our schools compare to schools across Georgia?  

Is the rumor of a lockdown true?  

Are schools closing due to bad weather?  

How does the District keep my student safe?  

The Cobb Schools Communications Department aims to answer those questions for the community every day.  

In order to reach our community as quickly as possible, we use a variety of communications channels including email, text message, phone, the District website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, podcasts, and YouTube. In fact, we sent out more than 844,000 text messages, 602,000 emails, 5,000 phone calls, over 30 stories, and a number of podcasts in just one month.  

It is important for the community to know how Cobb Schools stacks up to its peers and that Cobb Schools leads the Metro on state assessments, the SAT, and the ACT.  

It is important that the community know about the dedicated educators, like Osborne High School’s Annette Hansard, who has been teaching students for more than 50 years. It is important for the community to know that there are officers like Officer Phil Bradford charged with keeping our students safe.  

From the new Cobb Innovation and Technology Academy and new Clay Harmony Leland Elementary School to the new Lassiter High School 3,000-seat gym, it is important for the community to know how their tax dollars from Ed-SPLOST are benefiting students throughout Cobb.  

It is important for the community to know how departments, like the Cobb Instructional Technology Team, are preparing students for future success or how a staff member risks their life to protect students.  

When bad weather is in the forecast, it is important for the community to know where to turn for the latest and most accurate updates on school closings. The news media also rely on Cobb Schools for information regarding weather closings. The Cobb Schools Communications team posts updates on social media in addition to using traditional channels like email, text and the website to keep the public informed.  

Most importantly, when there is a crisis or a rumor of a crisis, the community needs to know where to turn for accurate information.  

Our school administrations and school police investigate rumors throughout the school day. Some rumors start on social media. Some start because students do not understand the impact of their single tweet or Snapchat message.  

Some rumors spread because no one checks with the school administration to see if the rumor is true. Some continue to spread because of misinformation. 

That is something the school administration and the Communications Department work to prevent. If there is a crisis at a school, the school principal will notify his/her community.  

“The priority is to tell parents as much as is possible, as quickly as possible, as accurately as possible. We can’t afford to be wrong. If we are in a circumstance where we must choose between those three, we are always going to choose getting it right,” explained Cobb Schools Chief Strategy and Accountability Officer John Floresta.  

We understand the community’s, especially parents, desire to know the details of what happens during a crisis. So, we explained the steps our staff takes and what parents can expect when the unexpected happens in this podcast: Communicating with the Community during a Crisis.  

Parents may wonder why we do not include specific details when something unexpected happens in a school. Chief Strategy and Accountability Officer John Floresta explained it in the podcast:

“We are bound by federal laws to protect student rights and data, including discipline record and criminal record. We get it, the details of unexpected issues at schools are often interesting and parents are invested in their schools, especially about anything related to safety. Maybe I should have added one more phrase when I said our Communications staff communicates ‘early, often, and accurately’ – legally,” Floresta added. 

Unfortunately, sometimes news reports do not always explain how school districts, like Cobb, are prevented by federal privacy laws, including FERPA, from releasing certain information.  

Because we are unable to provide all the information parents may request, we make it a priority to explain to the community how we keep Cobb students safe across the District. We launched the Cobb Shield website for that sole purpose. As a way to partner with the community to keep our schools safe, we launched the Safe Schools Alert Tipline

“By communicating early, often, and accurately, directly to our community, we believe we are providing the most information that matters to a parent in the most accurate way,” said Floresta.