Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) about the NUSD Petition
Updated: July 18, 2007

Index:


Q.  What is the petition about?

A.  The petition --- posted on our web site --- was circulated by the Novato Parents & Family Coalition (NPFC or "NovatoParents.org" for short). It has four sections covering a variety of issues facing Novato and the Novato Unified School District (NUSD). This more comprehensive approach was chosen with the hope of reducing or eliminating the need for other such efforts in the future. The four sections of the petition are as follows:

  1. A "Preamble" that sets the tone for, and applies to, all that follows.
  2. A proposed Content-Neutral and/or Equal Time Policy to be presented to the Novato Unified School District (NUSD) Board once the petition drive is concluded.
  3. Opposition to the approval or use of controversial/divisive materials, including but not limited to, “That’s A Family” (a video and accompanying booklet). As you may know, the Board initially approved (4-3) piloting “That’s A Family” in 5th Grade Family Life classes. And in June 2003, the Board approved its continued use, but only as supplemental material in Fifth Grade Family Life Classes and only after a letter was sent home and an opt-in form completed ad returned to the teacher. In that regard, NPFC still recommends that specific information about “That’s A Family” (e.g., excerpts from the Guidebook pages) be sent home to all parents of any 5th grade class that may consider using this video. This 3rd section also opposed other controversial materials that may arise later.
  4. Lastly, the fourth section contains additional proposals and suggestions on how to improve communications (e.g., a district-wide letter to parents, etc. well in advance) and inter-action.  Such proposals or suggestions are also intended to help reduce or avoid needless controversy in the future.

Q.  When and Why did the petition drive begin?

A.  On Aug. 8, 2002 (shortly after the NUSD Board finalized its decision for a Aug. 20 vote), we launched this petition drive. We then met again to finalize a name (NPFC or "NovatoParents.org" for short), pursue a web site, phone number, etc. We did all of this because it seemed no one was speaking for many Novato parents, families, children and concerned citizens. We also committed to test that belief by initially conducting this petition drive under the self-imposed condition of no public advertising to truly prove its grassroots appeal. Plus, we set a goal of reaching at least 1,000 signatures from Novato residents by the Board's vote on Aug. 20 before publicly representing ourselves as speaking for a large group of parents. As of noon on Aug. 20, we had over 1,200 signatures. By June 2003, we gathered and presented over 1,700 signatures to the NUSD board.

Q.  What was the petition response?

A.  We initially gathered over 1,200 signatures. That was quite remarkable since this grassroots petition drive started during vacation time, and under the self-imposed condition of no public advertising to truly prove its grassroots appeal. It is also worth noting that over 90% of those responding indicated that this was their first involvement with these issues. By June 2003, we gathered and presented over 1,700 signatures to the NUSD Board along with crucial public comments (which you can also find on this web site under the June 3, 2003 remarks).

Q.  What else should I know about NPFC and the Petition Drive?  

A.  NPFC formed in late July after meeting through our individual efforts to affect the Aug. 20, 2002 vote by the NUSD Board on the diversity materials. {See web site news item titled “One member’s letter to NUSD Board” as one example of those individual efforts.}  On Aug. 8, we launched a petition drive, and more than a dozen NPFC representatives, of diverse cultures, spoke to the Board on Aug. 20.  {See news item titled “Remarks to NUSD Board” for samples of Aug. 20 and Aug. 27 remarks by NPFC representatives.}  These are not things we wanted to do --- we’d rather be home with our families, coaching youth sports teams, working (not!), etc. … but, there seemed to be no other choice.  No one to date --- despite much publicity --- had effectively articulated the common ground and broad appeal of “keeping academic excellence paramount by helping ensure a safe and respectful school environment for all.” {See more about “common ground” in our Guiding Principles for Public Dialogue posted on web site.}

Q.  What is requested to sign the petition?

A.  You supply your Name (printed), Signature, and Novato Zip Code.**  You are also asked: (1) if this is your first involvement with these issues (i.e., the 1st time you've tried to let your voice be heard); and (2) if you are under age 18. If you prefer e-mail, please send your full address & phone number (optional) as additional identifying information in lieu of a signature. Please note:  We will not use any information you e-mail us for a mailing list, etc., nor will we give addresses or phone numbers to any other parties.

** If you have a student or students in the NUSD school system, but don't live at an address with a Novato ZIP CODE (94945, 94947, 94948, or 94949), you may also sign on to the petition and just note that your child(ren) attend school in the NUSD.

Q.  How can you be added to the petition, further support the petition drive, or offer other help or support to NPFC?

A.  Visit the NPFC website at www.NovatoParents.org. Our e-mail address is npfc@NovatoParents.org. We welcome your comments, questions, and involvement.