East Penn School District was criticized last week for what both Willow Lane parents and school board members have described as the administration’s failure to adequately publicize a Nov. 27 meeting to review the findings of a Willow Lane “Walkability Study.”
East Penn Community Liaison Nicole Bloise confirms the board was never notified about the Nov. 27 meeting, but she says that is pretty much standard operating procedure as far as "parent meetings" are concerned.
Some have said that even though school board members were not notified, the subject matter was important enough to mention it to them.
The study and subsequent Nov. 27 meeting are the latest steps on the winding path to walking school status for Willow Lane Elementary School – a status that has been in the school’s future right from its preconstruction days.
Even so, parents are generally opposed to the across-the-board elimination of busing at Willow Lane, saying that they fear for the safety of their children and citing concerns about things like the age of the traffic studies being used to shape school district decision-making and the lack of adequate signage around the school.
It was these concerns, coupled with what Willow Lane parents believe to be significant shortcomings of the walkability study, that led droves of parents to attend the Dec. 10 East Penn School Board meeting to convince board members it would be a bad idea to make Willow Lane a walking-only school next year.
Seventeen of these parents addressed the board for nearly an hour during the public comment portion of last week's meeting, adding their disappointment with the way the school district had gotten the word out about the Nov. 27 meeting to their laundry list of concerns.
At the end of Monday night’s meeting, board member Lynn Donches expressed her disappointment with the district’s failure to property publicize the meeting, calling the administration’s failure to notify the board about the meeting “disturbing” and stating that she would have been there had she known about it.
According to the district, meeting attendees included:
- Dr. Thomas P. Mirabella, East Penn Director of Student Services
- Dr. Anthony Moyer, Willow Lane Principal
- Engineer: John Farnoly of Pennoni Associates Inc., Mechanicsburg
- Lynn Glancy, East Penn Director of Operations
- State Police Representative
- Two Lower Macungie Township Representatives
Bloise expanded on the notification issue.
"This was a parent meeting and the board is not notified of all parents meetings such as PTO meetings, PTC Meetings, etc.," Bloise wrote in an email to Patch. "The board was given a copy of the study before it was posted on the district website in mid-October and Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger has not received questions from any of the board members regarding the study," Bloise said.
Willow Lane parents were informed about the meeting Nov. 14 via “EduLink,” the district’s automated emergency calling system. The system, formerly known as AlertNow, informs parents of important information such as school closings. The message about the meeting, recorded by Moyer, went out to all Willow Lane parents.