Washington Township Education Coalition
Regarding a recent automated phone call/survey conducted by the Dover Area School District (DASD), to Washington Township’s parents of Dover Area School District students, WTEC provides the following clarification:
On the evening of April 18, 2013, DASD conducted an automated phone survey. There was no advance notice nor explanation provided for why DASD was conducting the survey.
In short, the DASD phone survey presumably involved only Washington Township’s parents (of Dover school students) and asked a total of two questions, and allowed for an option of leaving additional comments at the end. The questions asked included:
Question #1: Before receiving this phone call, were you aware of a petition to move Washington Township students (to Northern)? Choose Yes or No.
Question #2: As a parent of student/s in the Dover schools, do you (prefer/support) that your child remain in the Dover schools/district? Choose Yes or No.
& "Provide additional comments if you wish"...
People, to provide answers your questions/emails sent to WTEC -- while we can not speak for Dover, we can clarify a reason for this survey, in part. The DASD asked these questions in response to the official questionnaire that was sent to them by the Secretary of Education. As part of our effort to join Northern, this questionnaire was sent out by the Secretary for fact-finding, in order to obtain a long list of facts the educational merit of our case.
Adding to the confusion is that Dr. Krantz/DASD did not state the purpose of the survey, nor what the results will be used for.
Parents, just so you know -- there are pages of questions which were presented to both Northern and Dover within the Department of Education's questionnaire. We assume that the main purpose of the phone survey is found in just one of the questions. This question, to be answered only by Dover (current school district) to the Department of Education question is written as follows: VIII. What is the viewpoint of the majority of the taxpayers who are parents of the students who will be transferred? Thus, DASD appears to be seeking data to answer this question.
An open invitation to DASD: If asked, WTEC will readily provide DASD with much more thorough, substantiated, factual and scientific answers to these questions than this phone survey will generate, including legal copies of all pages of the names, addresses and dates of all 1,413 signers of the petition, highlighting those signers who are parents of children in Dover schools as well as homeschooled, private schooled, charter school and (non-Dover) Cyber schooled. Bottom line, the majority of taxpayers and parents have signed a legal petition to secede to Northern. DASD is fully aware of this fact, and should have this information already. DASD maintains the names, addresses and phone numbers of all students. They could have cross-checked lists and arrived at the answer without a phone survey.
In support of our case, for better understanding by our parents, for use by the press/media, for use by both school districts and the Department’s use, here are the facts:
Regarding the first question, it would be nearly impossible for any resident of Washington Township, let alone the parents of students, to be unaware of the WTEC petition before April 18, 2013. It is astounding and disturbing that DASD would ask this question. Washington Township's residents are bewildered as to how DASD could possibly be unaware of 2 years of related WTEC petition activities in Washington Township. This question (#1) is not specifically part of the questionnaire, thus it is all the more odd that this question is raised. It is also disturbing that our parents would be surveyed with such a question in light of the fact that DASD has already conceded in a court of law that WTEC has far more than enough signatures on a LEGAL PETITION ACCEPTED BY THE YORK COUNTY COURT of COMMON PLEAS to advance our case to the next step. Since WTEC received over 1,400 of 1,900 possible signatures on our petition, and DASD conceded to this fact, then obviously DASD already has full knowledge of this fact. DASD of course has the list of parents and students as well. Note, the hearing on our case was held on November 2, 2012. The decision was agreed to by Dover and made final by Judge Linebaugh almost six months ago. Perhaps due to the fact that no Dover administrative staff - none, nor anybody in the 3% opposed to the petition bothered to show up in court on 11/2/12 can explain this lack of awareness?
Also previously well-documented, Washington Township citizens discussed the idea of seceding to Northern for many years before 2013. Using word of mouth, website, newspaper, flyers, signs, mail, phone calls, yard signs and every possible use of media except for radio, the petition was made known to all in 2011. Prior to that, the petition organization was raised multiple times in various public forums during (2007-2010), notably during the three years-long public revision process of the Township’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. (Note, our citizenry had over forty volunteers working on these revisions, which dug into the facts regarding our land use, community and educational future/vision. The land use plan process delayed the school petition process for 2 addition years until the commitment to revising our plan was completed). In hindsight, we regret that delay. Regardless, as stated in our comprehensive plan, Washington Township's values and vision of land use, sustaining our quality of life, education and community stands as the “polar" opposite (pun intended) of Dover. We do not tolerate such a mindless commitment to sprawl nor the disintegration of our children's educational future. Washington Township’s land use planning and community/education plans are no small deal in the petition/secede consideration. The same community cohesion and vision is carried into the secession effort, and hence the petition process went into motion.
As the petition idea grew stronger in 2010, it was raised during a number of Township Planning Commission meetings, Supervisors meetings, then became universally-known to all Washington Township residents when WTEC was formed.
As will be submitted as evidence to the court, to the DASD and to the Department of Education -- In 2011, the WTEC provided detailed petition information in FOUR different township-wide mailings, using 1st class postage to communicate to every single residence in Washington Township, at a cost of hundreds of dollars per each mailing. So, regarding question #1 -- yes, everyone was aware of the petition with that first mailing over a year and a half ago. WTEC used the list of the names and addresses of all taxable inhabitants of the Township that were provided to WTEC directly by the York County Assessment Office. WTEC sent petition mailings to every household in the township. Further proof of over 99+% of Township residents being made aware of the petition is based on the fact that less than 1% of mailings were returned due to improper address, vacancy, etc. and note -- advertisement and supporting information about the petition itself was made known by three additional mailings to residents of Washington Township. Unlike DASD, Washington Township commits to a thorough and detailed public involvement process, particularly for those decisions and priorities that are important to the students and parents. If support for the petition was not wildly popular, then the entire effort would have been dropped. The response and support of the petition is incredible. This basic information has been posted on our website for at least one full year.
As will be noted by the Department and upheld in court, WTEC could not have provided a more thorough and open public participation petition process if we tried. Moreover, WTEC went above and beyond to generate full notice of the petition. WTEC families posted at least 105 18X24" yard signs throughout the township, signs which clearly posted wording to “Support the Petition”; we posted flyers at stores, businesses, and post offices, held four public meetings and open petition signing events at the largest physical venues available in the township on four separate dates, all of which were widely advertised in advance via expensive newspaper ads and roadside billboards. Our public meetings were attended by at least one Dover School Board member, (yet Dover asks this question?) In addition, we made home-made signs, posted wooden billboard signs along roadsides; we conducted several well-attended fundraising events.
Also widely known -- the WTEC petition and related subjects were raised during several DASD Board meetings. These discussions were captured on live camera viewing, and are documented. Further, during the past two years, at least nine different letters on the subject were printed in the YDR, Dispatch, Patriot and Banner, as well as a minimum of five different editorials by the newspapers themselves. Private online news services also carried the news of the petition during the past two years. Twitter feeds, facebook pages also carried the news. All of Washington Township’s state elected officials were contacted, visited repeatedly by WTEC, made aware of the petition and each official has strong support for our effort. The petition was known to all people due to the availability of the internet, newspapers, telephones, email, hearing, vision and/or the trusty U.S. mail service.
In addition WTEC volunteers went door to door, at times 4 or 5 different times until finding somebody at home, and canvassed the entire township. No stone was left unturned, and no parents nor homes/areas were avoided. It is likely that no single issue has ever been more thoroughly canvassed, advertised and discussed in the 200+ year history of Washington Township. During and after our 4 public meetings, 4 township mailings, a door-to-door petition drive was conducted by WTEC for five full months, covering every street and property in the township. Often, there were lengthy discussions about the petition at each house, followed by 1,413 ready and willing signatures and frequent, generous donations to assist in our move to Northern. These signatures were from parents, grandparents, neighbors and deeply concerned people who know that Northern is the best educational future for our children. WTEC paid for an announcement of its move to become a PA Non-profit Corporation and advertised it in a newspaper of general circulation, and WTEC developed a website which announced the petition from day 1.
Therefore, based on these facts, the response to DASD’s Question #1 is that it is almost impossible for any Washington Township resident to NOT be aware of the WTEC petition well before the DASD phone call/survey of April 18, 2013.
God help us - these are the people in charge of our children's education! The fact that Dover asks this question speaks volumes about their complete lack of awareness, distance and indifference towards the people of Washington Township. In other news, water is wet and the sky is blue.
Regarding Question #2: Again, DASD already has in its hands the complete set of WTEC’s legal petition, signatures, names, dates and addresses of all 1,413 signers of the petition. DASD conceded in writing to a court of law that WTEC has provided the vast majority of signatures on a legal petition from our legal hearing before President Judge Linebaugh, York County Court of Common Pleas, prior to November 2, 2012. This list includes the names of parents with children in Dover schools. DASD's information on parents/students is equal if not better than WTEC's, and again, the answer to question #2 can be readily determined by DASD. Using common sense, WTEC presumes that if the parent signs the petition, then it's safe to say that they prefer their child/ren go to Northern schools. DASD will have to clarify their intentions if this is not the case.
Perhaps there is a question that the petition was an completed using an "end-around" the parents in Washington Township? No chance. WTEC documents provide proof that this was not the case. WTEC also has dozens of members, passionate parents included, prepared to testify to this fact. WTEC is comprised in part by several parents of children currently within the DASD, as well as grandparents and alumnus of DASD.
Finally, WTEC looks forward to full disclosure of these survey results, to review of the results and have the opportunity to provide the facts to the Department of Education.
For the Secretary, WTEC has additional issues and questions regarding the value and merit of data collected from this survey:
Issues and Questions: