Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) fiercely believes in protecting the integrity of broadcast journalism at WLRN. The School Board’s Editorial Integrity Policy establishes a firewall between management and WLRN’s content and programming decisions.
M-DCPS and Friends of WLRN (Friends) have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship, reflecting a commitment to education and excellent public programming. However, issues relating to Friends have recently surfaced, threatening to jeopardize the integrity and future of this valued relationship.
The School Board created Friends in 1974 as a fundraising arm to support WLRN. Unfortunately, Friends’ activities extending beyond its created role exposes M-DCPS to liability. There are concerns about Friends’ financial disclosures, personnel matters and operations, most recently identified by an independent auditor and previously by an audit committee of local business and community leaders. Friends’ misrepresentation of financial contributions in a federal audit resulted in the resignation of its CFO and fines against M-DCPS by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, jeopardizing federal support for WLRN. Friends’ creation and management of South Florida Public Media (SFPM), a nonprofit formed without Board approval with the ability to shield financial and personnel transactions from public scrutiny, is equally troubling.
Attempts to conceal operational and financial concerns behind the First Amendment are inaccurate and a disservice to the quality programming that defines WLRN. M-DCPS looks forward to an honest dialogue with Friends to finalize a long promised operating agreement, one that preserves the fine work WLRN has contributed to our community and protects the station’s ability to comply with necessary reporting requirements with transparency.
Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, chief communications officer,