What are Randolph Petitions?
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution includes the right of the people "to petition the government for a redress of grievances" -- but how exactly do people do that for Randolph municipal government?
Well, there's a petition process laid out in Randolph's Town Charter, section 3.6 and 3.7.
Our organizations, Randolph United and the Randolph Foundation for Education with help from the Randolph Democratic Town Commitee and ORMA-Randolph, began the first Randolph petitions in 2018.
Jesse Gordon became the first citizen of Randolph to exercise the right to a "Charter Petition," submitting the School Meals Petition to the Randolph School Committee in July 2019.
That means we established a new voice for the people of Randolph -- a means to be fully heard by our elected officials -- here's how it works:
- Under charter section 3.6, the people of Randolph can petition for a public hearing with either the School Committee or the Town Council.
The Randolph Foundation for Education (RFE) wrote a petition in 2018 for a School Committee hearing on instituting free breakfast and lunch for every student at every school in Randolph, based on an idea discussed with the School Superintendent in late 2017.
Click here for a full description of the Community Eligibility Option, in which Randolph could prticipate and save $20,000 per year in budget costs.
- We then organized volunteers (April through July 2019) to gather the 150 signatures required from registered voters, and "pre-certified" the signatures to reach the target 150 (we actually gathered over 200 signatures, but they have to be registered to vote).
Click here for a copy of the School Committee petition
- We then submitted the petitions for certification -- that required consulting with the Town Clerk, the Town Attorney, and the School Administrator, to define the rules of exactly how the process worked, since this was the first Charter Petition.
That included making up the term "Charter Petition," to differentiate from citizen's ballot initiatives and other types of petitions.
Click here for a Randolph Herald article Randolph ed group fills school meals gap, pushes for change.
- Jesse Gordon and other RFE members then appeared on RCTV at a School Committee meeting (July 25, 2019) to explain the process and present the petitions, which had then been certified by the Town Clerk.
The issues were outlined there -- the scope of the tasks for the Community Eligibility program; the cost savings for future school budget; and how to close the past budget gap.
There will be a full public hearing within the next couple of months, to discuss the issues in more details, and to allow for full public input (with back-and-forth discussion, and without the usual three-minute time limit, for "Public Speaks"!).
- We chose Charter Section 3.6 as the guide instead of Charter Section 3.7, which would require a School Committee vote instead of just a public hearing.
The RFE interacted with the School Committee members and the School Superintendent, well before submitting the Charter Petition, and knew that a public hearing was sufficient to accomplish the goal of participating in the program.
We have worked with other groups to submit other Charter Petitions since then and in the future -- let's use our new voice!