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Hearing today on Washington Township split from Dover schools

JESSICA SCHLADEBECK
YorkDispatch

A public hearing to determine whether more than 300 students living in Washington Township will continue attending Dover Area School District was set to begin Wednesday morning and continue through Thursday.

A special committee of the State Board of Education, established for the purpose of considering Washington Township's application to transfer from Dover Area School District to Northern York County School District are slated to hear statements from several groups invested in the outcome.

"There is going to be testimony provided by five parties: The Washington Township Education Coalition, Dover School District, Northern York School District, Dover Area Education Coalition and a group called KIDS or Keep us In Dover Schools," said Ben Pratt with CGA Law Firm, who is representing the Dover school district at the hearing.

After the evidentiary proceedings come to a close, the board will also hear from members of the public who were required to pre-register to offer comment.

Petition: A petition in 2012 was filed by the Washington Township Education Coalition requesting the township be moved into the Northern York County School District following Dover's closing of Kralltown Elementary School, which served Washington Township students.

The elementary school's closing, a big catalyst for the petition, lengthened the commute to school for most students.

The coalition also cited better educational opportunities offered in Northern York as a reason for wanting the move.

Since the filing, the issue has been working its way through the legal channels. In November, Washington Township was declared an independent district for the purpose of transfer, allowing the movement to seek final approval from the State Board of Education.

Requirement: "Under the (Pennsylvania School Code) there is information and certain qualifications outlined about transferring school districts," Pratt said. "They have the burden of proof here" or the obligation to prove their assertion "and if the board feels that they have met that burden, they would be able to transfer. It is rare, but the board in the past under unique circumstances has allowed this to happen."

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.