Many parents upset over SCS decision to hold classes despite icy - - Jackson, MS

Board member says SCS deserves 'butt-kicking' for not canceling classes

All buses made it to school safely Wednesday, despite one car crashed that into the back of a bus. All buses made it to school safely Wednesday, despite one car crashed that into the back of a bus.
Reaves said the district's process was right but that they made the wrong call. Reaves said the district's process was right but that they made the wrong call.

(WMC-TV) - Several Mid-South schools were closed due to the wintry weather Wednesday, but Shelby County Schools stayed open.

Sixteen-year-old Abigail Burton drove the Shelby County roads Wednesday morning.

"It was fine at first," said Burton.

But she says just after 6:45 a.m. her drive to Bolton High School got dangerous.

"It started raining and sleeting and the roads were kind of slick," she said.

With permission from her mom Burton, drove back home skipping school for the day.

"I didn't want to drive home later and have it be really bad," said Burton.

Shelby County School District Chief of Staff Reginald Porter says staff members got on a call at 3:00 a.m. Wednesday.

"We get on a call. We don't make this decision alone. We work with public works, TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation), other entities," said Porter.

Memphis Public Works Department confirms they communicated with SCS and Shelby County.

"Based on the time that we had to roll the busses out, which is about 5 o'clock in the morning, it seemed clear," said Porter.

It was just before 7:00 a.m, once buses were already en route that conditions changed.

"I think that every person has the right to their own individual opinion. We support our board in the decision that they make and they support us. But this is one of those tough calls that we had to make," said Porter.

One board member said Shelby County Schools deserves a "butt-kicking" for not canceling classes. It is something board member David Reaves is suggesting because he believes schools in such an expansive district should not be treated the same.

"Well, obviously, what happened with the weather event. We made the wrong choice," said Reaves.

He took his frustrations, like others, to Twitter writing at one point, "It was a poor decision. Too much risk. And we deserve a butt-kicking."

"It goes back to the size of the district and can we close certain schools in different parts of the county based upon weather conditions and leave other ones open," said Reaves.

Reaves wishes the district could make a distinction during weather events between schools in areas like north Shelby County or east Cordova compared to areas like Whitehaven or Midtown.

"One of the things I want parents to understand is all of the buses got to school safely," said Porter.

All buses made it to school safely Wednesday, despite one car crashed that into the back of a bus.

Reaves said the district's process was right but that they made the wrong call.

Below is a statement from Superintendent Dorsey Hopson:

District staff monitored the weather and the streets all night and checked in with reports at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. We knew this would be a tough call because there was no significant precipitation at those times, and forecasts had changed multiple times overnight. Precipitation started after buses were en route, but given the information we had at the time, we did not believe it was in the best interest of students to close schools. Bus drivers were urged to be especially cautious in isolated areas where conditions may have worsened through the morning. We ran approximately 1,300 bus routes this morning. We had one minor accident, where a car hit one of our buses, but all students arrived at school safely. Our primary mission is to educate children. We have alarming literacy rates and achievement gaps across our city and suburbs, and every day we are out of school is a lost opportunity for teaching and learning. Notably, the ASD, charter schools and many private schools in Memphis and Shelby County are also in session today. We will continue to monitor the weather and road conditions and remain in contact with the weather bureaus and emergency management officials throughout the day as we have throughout this winter season.

Here is a look at the SCS inclement weather policy:

Every winter, Shelby County Schools works closely with the National Weather Bureau to stay informed of all inclement weather forecasted for the Shelby County area. Forecasts are relied on to aid in decisions about school closings and early dismissals due to inclement weather. Closings and dismissals may be based on both existing weather and predictions.

In every instance of inclement weather, the district staff will check conditions on neighborhood streets, bus routes and school property in all SCS communities to determine if it is safe for travel to and from school and student activities. Consideration will also be given to weather conditions that would make it difficult or dangerous to operate schools.

SCS always tries to give parents as much notice as possible when closing schools. However, since weather is sometimes unpredictable, it is possible that a decision on closing schools may not be made until morning.

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