Board recognizes soccer team, hears from concerned parents at action meeting

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Board recognizes soccer team, hears from concerned parents at action meeting

The Boys' Soccer Team members shake hands with the School Board members as they are recognized for their 2019 state title.

The Boys' Soccer Team members shake hands with the School Board members as they are recognized for their 2019 state title.

Connor Niszczak

The Boys' Soccer Team members shake hands with the School Board members as they are recognized for their 2019 state title.

Connor Niszczak

Connor Niszczak

The Boys' Soccer Team members shake hands with the School Board members as they are recognized for their 2019 state title.

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LANSDALE-“The girls eat popsicles, and the boys don’t do anything.”

That’s how one Oak Park student responded when Principal Mr. Winkle asked what they thought the School Board does in honor of School Board Appreciation Month.

After hearing from Oak Park students and catching up on other district happenings in the monthly North Penn news update, the Board recognized the Boys’ Soccer Team for their 2019 State Championship Title.

This is the best North Penn boys soccer team ever.”

— Paul Duddy, Boys' Soccer Head Coach

The Board then heard from a number of Gwynedd Square parents during the Audience of Citizens who had concerns about redistricting.

Under a proposed “Option 2”, 60 Inglewood students would be moved to Gwynedd Square, and 60 students from Gwynedd Square would be moved to General Nash.

“It involves the most people moving around, and seems to be the least efficient solution,” one Gwynedd Square father remarked.

“The Gwynedd Square community has been amazing to my family. I’d like to recommend that Option 2 be removed from the docket,” another parent added.

Two members of the Ambler NAACP then addressed the Board about a growing concern about a December 2019 incident at Pennfield Middle School, regarding an 8th grade student that made violent threats towards the school. 

A Change.org petition was started in response to the incident, demanding that the following actions take place. “1-Criminal prosecution of the identified student, based on repeated terroristic threats against Pennfield Middle School. 2-Permanent expulsion of the identified student from the North Penn School District. 3-Revision of the 2020 North Penn School District Secondary Disciplinary Structure Code of Conduct related to Level IV misconduct, to identify permanent expulsion and criminal prosecution as an explicit response to terroristic threats.”

Kelly Brown, with the Ambler branch of the NAACP, shared that over 2,700 people have signed the petition and commented about the need for drastic change.

“Our children have become just a number to the School District,” one parent expressed.

Carmina Taylor, Ambler NAACP President, expressed the desire to “engage in active conversations” with the Board regarding these issues.

Students and safety are the number one priority of this Board.”

— Jonathan Kassa, NPSB Director

 

“We aren’t having these tough conversations and aren’t advancing that dialogue,” Kassa added.

Taylor then informed the Board of a community conversation taking place at the Lansdale YMCA on February 17th at 6 pm. 

The event will feature members of the African-American community discussing issues like what occurred at Pennfield in order to create “a better understanding of where students and parents are coming from,” Taylor said. 

Moving forward, the Board heard each of the Committee reports. During the North Penn Educational Foundation Committee report, Board Director Juliane Ramic spoke about the recent $25,000 grant given to the Engineering department at the high school, the largest in the foundation’s history.

Board President Tina Stoll briefly mentioned the 2020 Day of Advocacy for Public Education taking place in Harrisburg on March 23.

Dr. Dietrich then went through his monthly Superintendent’s Report, with all items being approved. Notable items included approval for bids for the Knapp renovation project to be advertised beginning February 7th (31 days after the Act 34 hearing) and that contracts will soon be entered for the Crawford Stadium project.

After a politically charged comment by one community member in the second Audience of Citizens, Jonathan Kassa made it clear how the School Board intends to operate in 2020.

“Just to be clear, this Board is apolitical. We are always going to put common sense before politics.”

The next North Penn School Board meeting will be a work session held on Tuesday, February 11, at 7 pm at the Educational Services Center.