In the past several weeks, parents of Willow Lane Elementary School students have begun to question authorities. Clearly they are casting a wider net -- beyond the East Penn School Board -- to ensure the safety of their children.
What's not clear is whether Lower Macungie Township dropped the ball, or the East Penn School District changed the plans.
The East Penn School District eliminated busing to the school for the 2012-2013 school year when it passed its most recent budget. It then reconsidered and postponed the decision.
Several parents have started a Facebook group, "Protect the HAWK," and on Dec. 18 several parents addressed the township's Public Safety Commission.
On Dec. 20, the parents addressed the township's Board of Commissioners with concerns that there are no signs that indicate the area is a school zone, nor are there any other safety measures in place.
Indeed, a student was hit by a car at an after-school activity in 2011.
That's because Willow Lane was never meant to be a "walking" school, said Commissioner James Lancsek.
Lancsek, who served as the township's zoning officer for 25 years, explained that he was privy to the entire planning and zoning process for Willow Lane Elementary from the very beginning.
"Walking was NOT an issue," Lancsek said at the Dec. 20 BOC meeting, "This is a change in plans," he said of the intention for students who live 1.5 miles or less from the school to begin walking to and from in September.
"It's not the way we were told, but we're going to be the ones holding the bag," Lancsek told parents at the meeting.
He also said he and Lower Macungie Township personnel were going back through the minutes of the zoning hearing board to make sure they're correct that Willow Lane was never intended to be a walking school.
Other township minutes, however, could indicate the township knew Willow Lane was intended to be a walking school.
Under the heading of "Old Business" in the BOC meeting minutes from March 4, 2010, Township Manager Bruce Fosselman reminds the commissioners to review a "Right of Way Maintenance Ordinance" regarding the area around the school:
"Mr. Fosselman said there will be students walking to the new Willow Lane Elementary School next fall and suggested a committee look at the maintenance of sidewalks before that time."
The statement suggests that the township was well aware that students would be walking to Willow Lane early in 2010 before the school ever opened.
Fosselman said Wednesday that's really not the case.
"The school district was convinced there would be walking students, but it backtracked from there," Fosselman said.
"[Lancsek's] statement was based on what he remembered," he said.
The township continues to search the minutes of the zoning hearing board, Fosselman said, to determine what the original intention really was and if and when it changed. Plans were made for the school in 2006 or 2007, he said, before Fosselman became manager in 2008.
"The school's calling the shots," Fosselman said. "We're following."