Saturday, August 23, 2014
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Pennsbury seeks to quash redistricting plan

A civic group's plan is politically motivated, and supporting signatures are "deficient," the district said in court papers.

Pennsbury seeks to quash redistricting plan

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Pennsbury School Board Vice President Simon Campbell would not have a seat to run for under a civic group's plan.

The Pennsbury School District is seeking the dismissal of a civic group’s proposal to redraw the voting regions.

The proposal by the Concerned Residents of Pennsbury is politically motivated and is supported by flawed signatures, the district said in petitions filed Thursday in Bucks County Court.

“The CROP petition would succeed in eliminating available seats for current board members, creating an illegal result under the [Public] School Code,” the district said.

The district cited CROP documents that the group accidentally submitted with its court filing to divide Pennsbury into nine regioins. 

“CROP’s own exhibits show that [former teachers’ union president John] McDonnell and CROP formulated multiple petitions … to eradicate the current board majority of the Board of School Directors … through redistricting,” Pennsbury said, “and it is clear that CROP’s motivation was not achieving constitutional balance (one person/one vote) among the regions … .”  

One of the documents revealed CROP’s plan to target board Vice President Simon Campbell.

 “When [the plan] provides the opportunity to cut off the head of the snake by denying Campbell a seat to run for, why not go for the kill?’ ”   

Another document said CROP’s plan also would eliminate the seat of board Assistant Secretary Kathleen Zawacki.

CROP’S filing also contained supporting signatures that were “defective,” the district said. The 3,852 signatures included “unregistered voters, illegible signatures, duplicate signatures … incorrect addresses and wrong dates, the district said, and one was for a resident who died in 2004.

CROP filed its proposal on June 29, a week after the district filed its plan. The district’s plan would adjust the three existing voting regions to balance the population of 71,000, and would not cost any board member a seat.

Both sides are scheduled for an Aug. 17 hearing before President Judge Susan Devlin Scott. The judge could wait till then to rule on Pennsbury’s motions to quash CROP’s plan.

CROP’s lawyer, David Truelove, could not be reached for comment.  

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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