Newspaper article

Some Free Advice for Minneapolis Public Schools' Next Communications Team

Newspaper article

Some Free Advice for Minneapolis Public Schools' Next Communications Team

Article excerpt

A few years back, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) communications chief Stan Alleyne called me up and asked if I had time to sit down with the superintendent.

"It's important," he said.

When we met, I looked across the table at he and Bernadeia Johnson to be greeted with an awkward pause.

"You know why we asked you here," Alleyne started, looking uncharacteristically apprehensive.

I did not, actually. At which point all three of us cracked up. For once, the rumor mill was down for repairs.

During Alleyne's six-plus years at MPS, he used the same phrase - - "It's important" -- maybe half a dozen times with me. Each time it was indeed something important, and something important to get right. A couple of those times I was invited -- rightly -- to revisit a topic from a different vantage.

That's worth noting given what's happened over the last month to Communications Department of Minneapolis Public Schools. It's been emptying out.

At the end of March, Alleyne accepted a position at Tunheim, where he will lead their education and nonprofit communications consulting. No longer will his be the voice that robo-calls you get with the news that there will or will not be a snow day.

A few days after Alleyne announced his departure, Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs Rachel Hicks announced she is also moving on, to Intermediate District 287, which provides services to west metro school districts and to students with highly specialized and intense challenges.

And Myrle Croasdale, relative newcomer, is off to Honeywell as of Friday.

I am not surprised they are moving. It's a time when one superintendent has left MPS and an interim one is being tried on for size. To do their jobs well, communications folks need to be intimate -- like lady's-maid-on-"Downton Abbey" intimate -- with the people they advise. …

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