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TV station agrees with schools to bar reporter from covering them for 90 days

MOORHEAD, Minn. – To prevent one of its reporters from being charged with trespassing, a local TV station signed a deal with school officials in Fargo and Moorhead agreeing not to assign school stories to that reporter for 90 days.

Police in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo, N.D., investigated Mellaney Moore for possible trespassing charges after her Dec. 11 story for Valley News Live in which she entered elementary schools in all three cities without signing in at the front desks – an attempt to point out shortcomings in the schools’ security.

Prosecutors in Moorhead and Fargo said earlier this week that they decided not to seek charges of trespassing against Moore.

The essentially identical agreements hashed out with school officials – signed by the districts’ superintendents as well as Moore, the news director and the general manager of Valley News Live – say the districts will ask prosecutors to charge Moore if she commits any trespassing violations in the next year.

The mediated settlement specifies that officials from neither the districts nor Valley News Live will take retaliatory action against each other in the wake of the agreement.

It also bars both Valley News Live and school officials from making any public statements about Moore entering the schools. The only exception is district officials are allowed to say publicly they chose not to press charges.

The agreement states that Valley News Live may continue to cover the public schools, including investigative reports. The deal does require Valley News Live to follow all state and local laws in future reporting.

The districts agreed to provide access to all media outlets as the law requires.

Moore was represented by Lisa Borgen, a private attorney who was formerly a district court judge and the elected top prosecutor of Clay County.

West Fargo School District spokeswoman Heather Konschak said district officials were meeting with Valley News Live representatives Thursday afternoon to consider striking a similar deal.

“We are seriously contemplating the same steps as Fargo did,” Konschak said.