In the wake of the DVJournal report on the lack of transparency by the Pennsbury education system, the school district voted Thursday to expand its educational software to include lesson plans for teachers.

At issue was a controversial video shown to 8th graders in the Pennsbury School District showing young Native American women saying the Thanksgiving holiday was a result of the “slaughter of Native Americans.” Concerned about the content, parents Tim Daly and Jesse Rivera filed right-to-know requests for the teacher’s lesson plan. Those requests revealed Pennsbury teachers were not filing lesson plans at all.

In an affidavit Pennsbury open records officer and district spokeswoman Jennifer Neill said that “formal lesson plans are not in wide use in recent years.”

However, the district has a policy that requires teachers to file lesson plans.

At Thursday’s board meeting, Lois Lambing, who chairs the education committee, quickly read a motion to expand its educational software to include lesson plans as she reviewed a list of other items for the board to approve.  The lesson plan component is part of Chalk, a software package the district had in place.

Lambing said teachers will begin using the lesson plan software in September.

Parental concerns about classroom content exploded during the COVID pandemic, when many moms and dads saw firsthand what their children were being taught, thanks to remote learning. Transparency about school curricula is at the center of those concerns.

For example, in the Pennsbury case, Rivera, whose lineage includes the Taino tribe, was particularly concerned that his son was exposed to misinformation. He attended a school board meeting last December, brandishing a letter from President Abraham Lincoln, who officially established the Thanksgiving holiday.

After DVJournal reported on the issue, Daly and Rivera were guests on the Dom Giordano Show on WPHT, bringing more unflattering publicity to the Pennsbury school district.

Soon after, Pennsbury school officials reversed course.

Rivera said, “I am pleased to hear the board is looking at complying with policy. It is my hope this will provide proactive lesson plans and not reactive lesson summaries. I want to see teachers are actually planning and teaching accurately and transparently and be prepared to answer the deeper questions of topics touched on in the classroom.”

“Our significant efforts to uncover the truth regarding lesson planning through right-to-know requests were a success,” Daly said. “We proved that the school district was not actively monitoring lesson plans despite many teachers at Pennsbury creating them with this new software program. The decision to deploy Chalk places accountability on the administration to ensure approved curriculum is being presented in our classrooms.”

A woman spoke about the Thanksgiving video at the June 18 education committee meeting, saying she’d heard about it on the radio.  She asked whether the teacher could show the students Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation.

“I know that lesson has gone through curriculum review and it was approved by the committee who reviewed it. It was a perspective piece. It wasn’t based on the teaching of Thanksgiving but more on representing a perspective in a writing course,” said Lambing.

Assistant Superintendent Theresa Ricci said, “That occurred in November 2023. A teacher in a language arts class was doing work with students on perspective. The video doesn’t talk about the historical significance of Thanksgiving. Instead, it provides perspective from one group of people on how they perceive Thanksgiving. It was not a lesson in history or historical context or anything like that. The purpose of the lesson was to address perspective in an English class.”