Peachjar Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
February 27, 2020
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) continues to make progress on its review of electronic flyer distribution guidelines.
The two options listed below were presented to the Communications & Outreach Committee on February 20. The committee voted 2-0-1 (with Ms. Corbo absent) to move the item forward to the full School Board with a recommendation of adopting Option A.
The School Board heard the item on its Information Agenda at the February 25 meeting. The School Board is expected to vote on the recommendation March 10.
February 13, 2020
LCPS Staff to Present Options for Updates to Eflyer Distribution through Peachjar System at Feb. 20 Communications & Outreach Committee Meeting (5 p.m., Room 101D, Administration Building)
Loudoun County Public Schools suspended distribution of electronic flyers in December 2019 to conduct a review of the administrative guidelines and practices used to determine organizations’ eligibility to distribute flyers, acceptable flyer content and other characteristics of the program. LCPS’ intention is to provide a tranquil, non-divisive, non-disruptive means for distributing school information to parents and guardians of LCPS students. Certain other organizations, such as governmental units and nonprofit community organizations, have also been allowed to distribute flyers in the past.
The electronic distribution of flyers is an economical and environmentally advantageous solution to the desire for schools and other organizations to distribute information to the parents and guardians of LCPS students. Using a centralized system with clear definitions of eligible organizations and acceptable content helps ensure consistency across the division, and reduces the administrative burden on school staffs for managing requests from outside groups.
If LCPS resumes distribution of flyers from community organizations, it must maintain a viewpoint-neutral position regarding the community organizations that request distribution of flyers. In other words, if a flyer’s content otherwise qualifies for distribution under the proposed regulations, the viewpoint represented by the requesting organization cannot be a factor in deciding whether to distribute the flyer.
Staff is presenting two options for the committee’s consideration, and will recommend that the committee present a motion to the full School Board to endorse one of the two options. Both options include refined guidelines on the acceptable content of flyers.
Option A would endorse distribution of flyers from LCPS, LCPS schools, certain governmental organizations and qualified community organizations.
Option B would endorse distribution of flyers from only LCPS, LCPS schools and Loudoun County governmental units, but not community organizations.
An advantage of Option A is that it provides a service to families and qualified community organizations by distributing flyers relating to opportunities offered by qualified community organizations. A disadvantage of Option A is that some parents/guardians may not want to receive all the flyers and may believe that LCPS should not distribute certain flyers with particular viewpoints.
An advantage of Option B is that it decreases the likelihood that parents/guardians will receive flyers that they would prefer not to receive or that they believe should not be distributed to LCPS. A disadvantage of Option B is that it does not provide the benefit to parents/guardians and qualified community organizations of distributing flyers that may be of interest to parents/guardians.
If the Communications Committee approves a motion on this topic, this topic would be scheduled as an Information Item at the School Board meeting on February 24, 2020. The typical timeline is that the topic would return to the School Board as an action item on March 10, 2020.
December 12, 2019
Superintendent's Statement Regarding Peachjar
With the support of the Chair and Vice Chair of the School Board, I have decided to immediately and indefinitely discontinue the distribution of electronic flyers from community organizations via Peachjar to allow a review of the Peachjar guidelines and practices for electronic flyers from community organizations. This review will consider whether we should resume the distribution of electronic flyers from community organizations via Peachjar, and if so, whether we should revise the existing criteria relating to eligible organizations and flyers.
Eric Williams, Ed.D.
LCPS Peachjar FAQs
1. What is Peachjar?
Peachjar is an online flyer distribution system that allows the school division and individual schools to upload flyers that promote their events to parents of enrolled students, not directly to students. For example, LCPS used Peachjar recently to distribute flyers relating to an elementary school family movie night, a parent resource meeting on transitioning effectively to middle school, a parents’ night out program (babysitting) organized by a school music group, and a LCPS Special Education Advisory Council meeting.
The system has also allowed community organizations and colleges to submit flyers for review and distribution to LCPS parents in accordance with flyer distribution administrative guidelines. For example, LCPS used Peachjar to distribute flyers for a youth talent showcase benefiting the LEF-LCPS BackPack Coalition Program, a faith-based athletic organization, a traditional holiday pageant and non-profit educational enrichment programs.
In addition to sending an email containing the flyer, the system posts the flyer on the Peachjar website and mobile app widget for the schools selected by the sender. The flyer remains in those two locations for 30 days.
2. When and why was the distribution of electronic flyers from community organizations via Peachjar discontinued?
Effective December 12, 2019, the Superintendent, with support from the School Board Chair and Vice-Chair, indefinitely discontinued the distribution of electronic flyers from community organizations via Peachjar to allow a review of the Peachjar guidelines and practices for electronic flyers from community organizations.
3. What will be the nature of the review of the Peachjar guidelines and practices for electronic flyers from community organizations?
The review will consider the following questions, among others:
- Should LCPS resume the distribution of flyers from community organizations through Peachjar or only distribute LCPS flyers?
- If LCPS allows the distribution of flyers from community organizations, what revisions, if any, should be made to the criteria used to determine an organization’s eligibility to submit a flyer? (The LCPS Administrative Guidelines for Peachjar Distribution articulate criteria for the eligibility of organizations, but should the criteria be revised?)
- If LCPS allows the distribution of flyers from community organizations, what revisions, if any, changes should be made to the criteria used to approve flyers submitted by eligible organizations? (The LCPS Administrative Guidelines for Peachjar Distribution articulate criteria for flyers, but should the criteria be revised?)
Any exclusion of organizations or particular flyers or restrictions on content by a public body invoke complex legal and constitutional considerations that require careful research and thoughtful review that is viewpoint neutral. Therefore, any changes to the administrative guidelines will require legal review.
LCPS invites community input regarding these questions. LCPS community members are invited to send input to Schools@LCPS.org. LCPS will publish the results of its review of the guidelines and practices for electronic flyers from community organizations and will invite public comment before implementation of new guidelines and practices.
4. Does distribution of a flyer from a community organization through Peachjar constitute endorsement or sponsoring by LCPS?
No. The administrative guidelines indicate that materials submitted for distribution must clearly state the source and will include a system-generated statement indicating that the subject is not endorsed or sponsored by LCPS. Staff is reviewing why that statement was absent from select flyers and will address any technical errors identified.
5. Before the discontinuation of distribution of flyers from community organizations through Peachjar, how did a community organization submit a flyer for possible distribution on Peachjar?
Community organizations visited www.peachjar.com to create an account, purchase credits and upload a flyer. LCPS received no financial compensation for the distribution of flyers.
6. Before the discontinuation of distribution of flyers from community organizations through Peachjar, how did LCPS evaluate flyers before approving them for distribution?
The Loudoun County School Board was not involved in the review and/or approval of flyers for distribution and had no advance knowledge of which flyers will be distributed.
The LCPS Public Information Office received an email from the Peachjar system when a community organization uploaded a flyer. Staff in the Public Information Office verified that the community organization had 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Staff then reviewed the flyer’s content for compliance with the LCPS Administrative Guidelines for Peachjar Distribution.
If a flyer cleared both reviews, it was released on the next available date. Flyers from external organizations were typically distributed on Tuesdays. If a flyer was not approved, the uploader received an email letting him/her know the decision and a reason for the denial. The most common reason for denial was that the uploading organization was a for-profit entity. If LCPS declined to distribute a flyer, the credits invested by the community organization were refunded by Peachjar.
7. Before the discontinuation of distribution of flyers from community organizations through Peachjar, did LCPS ever decline to distribute flyers?
LCPS declined to distribute flyers that did not comply with any of the 13 characteristics listed on page 2 of the Flyer Distribution Administrative Guidelines. When LCPS declined to distribute a flyer, the sender received an email indicating why the flyer was declined.
8. When are Peachjar flyers released?
As of December 9, 2019, flyers from LCPS are released on Fridays. Peachjar flyers from community organizations were released on Tuesdays before the discontinuation of this practice.
9. Why did LCPS implement Peachjar?
LCPS implemented Peachjar in October 2016 to improve the efficiency of flyer distribution by schools and to reduce the amount of paper used for communication. Between implementation in October 2016 and June 2019, LCPS saved nearly 58 million sheets of paper, or 6,589 trees. This translates into cost savings for paper and photocopying for LCPS as well. The system also standardized the review and approval process to ensure greater consistency across the division.
10. How many flyers are sent through the Peachjar system?
The system counts a flyer sent by the division’s central administration, for example, as 94 flyers because the one flyer is sent to 94 different schools.
Keeping that in mind, 11,263 flyers were distributed between August and November 2019. Schools and PTAs/PTOs sent 260 of those. The district sent 9,125 flyers. Community organizations sent 1,878 flyers.
11. I get a lot of flyers for programs that don’t relate to me. For example, I have a student interested in the arts, but I get lots of sports flyers. Is there a way to get only flyers that relate to my family?
There is no way to select which flyers you receive or don’t receive. The flyers are distributed on the basis of the entire school population. Senders cannot select subgroups of families to receive particular flyers. Recipients cannot choose to receive or not receive particular flyers either.
12. How much does Peachjar cost LCPS to use?
LCPS paid a one-time setup fee of $5,000 in 2016 at implementation. There are no annual contract renewal charges since community organizations pay for the distribution of their flyers.