School District Claims LNP’s presentation of “inflamed and inaccurate” information concerned parents

The Warwick School District asserted in a statement released during the board meeting Tuesday night that a Lancaster Newspapers article about a planned abstinence speaker used “inaccurate information and snippets of video out of context.” “Parents who shared concerns with us last week often referenced the inflamed and inaccurate information presented by the newspaper,” the school district wrote.

Lancaster Newspapers published a story online on October 15 just an hour after the district sent an email that notified parents of the assembly. District officials say the documents, which included an opt-out form, were leaked to the publication. A controversy erupted as Warwick parents learned of the assembly through the LancasterOnline story and social media.

The LancasterOnline article exclusively quoted parents opposed to the presentation, featured two videos of Stenzel from YouTube, and ran a headline that led one reader posting from a Facebook account under the name Scott Musser to comment “seems meant to incite controversy.” The November 19 assembly for Warwick middle and high school students became a flash point for district criticism on social media as soon as the article was published.

In reply to Musser’s question regarding why LNP chose to publish the article so soon after the district sent the letter, reporter Kara Newhouse replied: Our goal is to get information out to Lancaster County as quickly as possible.  We regularly update our stories as more news comes to us. If this were a story with sensitive information about a student, that might warrant waiting till parents were informed, however, this is about an outside speaker, so there was no reason not to share it.”

On October 19, Lancaster Newspapers published an editorial critical of the district’s decision to pay the speaker $3,500 to present to student regarding abstinence, the dangers of sexually transmitted disease, and the reality of teen parenting. The district now claims that controversy prompted by the LNP article actually caused the district to shoulder the maxiumum cost of $3,500 when it could have paid less if ocal schools who were negotiating contracts with the speaker had not withdrawn interest in the wake of the controversy.

Barb Roda, executive editor of Lancaster Newspapers, which operates LancasterOnline and is the parent company of the Lititz Record Express, failed to respond to two separate emails requesting comment. An article in the Lititz Record Express published Wednesday indicated that the notification to parents was leaked to “Lancaster media,” but failed to identify Lancaster Newspapers, the paper’s parent company, by name. The LNP article published after the school board meeting made no mention of the board criticism.

Lynn Rebuck covers education for dr-feelgoods.com. Comments are welcome at editor@LititzDaily.com.